The San Francisco 49ers, FC Gold Pride, the Bay Area franchise of Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) and the Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative (BAWSI) came together on National Girls and Women in Sports Day and conducted a Community Caravan to kick off an extended initiative to support women's sports in the Bay Area and across the country.
49ers guard, Tony Wragge, joined BAWSI co-founder, soccer icon and FC Gold Pride player, Brandi Chastain along with FC Gold Pride's Leslie Osborne, Owner Nancy NeSmith, General Manager Ilisa Kessler and the other co-founder of BAWSI, Marlene Bjornsrud. The group made stops at two South Bay elementary schools to encourage girls to be active and reinforce the positive impact sports can play in the lives of young girls and women.
The Caravan visited Bowers Elementary School in Santa Clara and Washington Elementary School in San Jose where the players spoke to the kids and discussed the impact sports can play in one's life along with the importance of team, hard work, respect and working together.
At both stops, BAWSI's Marlene Bjornsrud greeted the children with opening remarks about the importance of the day and then introduced the three players who provided words of encouragement and interactive demonstrations with the children.
49ers Tony Wragge was the first to address the youth, encouraging them to be active daily, work together and participate in sports to build character and self-esteem. He mentioned, "I know sometimes there aren't a lot of opportunities to participate in sports but it can be anything from helping your dad, helping your mom, doing your chores, or playing at recess. As long as it's something that builds character and self-esteem it's something we want you to be a part of."
Tony also spoke to the boys in the crowd about the need to support their fellow female athletes and work together with them instead of against them. Tony continued by saying, "I know, for a fact, there are girls that do some things better than I do. So we all need to play together and let the girls play because I know there are girls that can do things better than me. So, boys show your support to the girls."
This was a perfect introduction into Brandi and Leslie's soccer demonstration of juggling soccer balls back and forth countless times, on all parts of their body including their heads. This was something later, Brandi and Leslie used to prove girls can in fact be better than boys.
At both elementary schools, Brandi and Leslie had Tony demonstrate how to juggle the soccer ball with his head by bouncing it twice in a row off his head and then catching the ball. Needless to say, Tony is a stellar athlete on the football field, but he may need a bit more practice and lessons from Brandi and Leslie before he changes professions. However, Tony was a great sport and provided a valuable lesson to the children in that these two women are in fact better soccer players than he is and he is proud to support them in their profession.
The three players also worked with the kids to perform additional demonstrations which included the kids learning to juggle and even had a demonstration that incorporated a kid bouncing the ball off their head to Leslie, who passed it off her head to Tony, who then passed it back to Leslie in an effort to express teamwork amongst the group.
The Community Caravan is one of many events to come that shows the 49ers, FC Gold Pride and BAWSI's proactively support the ambition young girls and women have to pursue participation in sports and to emphasize the importance sports can play in the development and future success of young women.
All three organizations are partnering again on March 6 when they host the T.H.I.N.K. Gold conference at the San Francisco 49ers practice facility in Santa Clara to further encourage local female youth to participate in outdoor recreational activities in sports in a healthy and successful manner. T.H.I.N.K. Gold represents the event's objectives of imparting tips about "Training, Health, Inspiration, Nutrition, and Knowledge" for success in athletics and life.