The World According to Weimer: Power to the Players



oossqFv1This is the sixth article for Empire of Soccer by the NWSL and Boston Breakers player Tiffany Weimer. The Connecticut native and former star at Penn State who has played professionally in the U.S., Canada and abroad offers an inside look at the care and feeding of a soccer player.

The National Women’s Soccer League’s Players Association for non-allocated players (those whose contracts are not financed by U.S. Soccer or the Canadian Soccer Association) was announced recently. After mentioning the development in this last blog last week, I reached out to Yael Averbuch, one of the driving forces behind the formation of the union.

Q: There are obvious reasons to start a Players Association. But what has compelled you to be involved? Was it because no one else was doing it?

A: I think there’s always been a lot of confusion around the process of organizing as players and eventually forming a union. I actually started by just wanting to learn a bit more about the stages involved but once I learned more, I did feel compelled to become involved to make sure we really did things right. Yes, we do need to organize as players, but I felt strongly that doing it right was more important than doing it quickly and because of how new and fragile our league still is I felt that it was vital to take a certain approach.

Q: What are the reasons you think initiatives to start a union have failed in the past? Basically, what took so long?

A: In WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer) we had just formed a union when the league folded. In NWSL we had tried to start the process, but I think it was premature and before you have a very solid communication chain it’s extremely difficult to spread the information about how and why there’s need for a union. It took MLS players seven years to officially create its union, so that puts the process in perspective a bit.

Q: What do you hope this can mean for the league presently and in the future?

A: I think that in this league it’s vital for everyone to be working together. We don’t have the time, energy, or resources for various factions to be battling. So, we need a strong, organized group of players, but one that is focused on collaborative and creative efforts to make progress.

Q: What can players do to help support the association? Or people on the outside?

A: Really, it’s important that players on teams ask questions, stay aware of what’s going on, and are responsive to any email communication. I always tell people on the outside that the best way to support is to buy tickets to games — buy season tickets — even if you don’t live in the market of a team, buy them and ask the club to donate them locally. Also, now it’s so important to tune in and watch the coverage that’s provided! Make sure to watch all the games on Lifetime and have the go90 app to watch the others that are streamed there. If people really want to help, they can be part of those positive numbers that create the platform for revenue and corporate sponsorships. That’s real action and it’s easy to do.

We, the players, want this league to survive for a long time. We have seen what Major League Soccer has done and how impressive it is. I have also seen many young girls at MLS games and wonder if maybe they don’t know about the women’s league or maybe their parents don’t see the importance of taking them to see successful, competitive women doing what they love.

I’m not sure. I just know that if I was growing up now, (as opposed to the 1980s when there was no women’s soccer) I would hope my parents would put me in women’s jerseys and take me to see their games. I would hope they would encourage my dream of being a professional player by showing me in person that it is possible.

I know there are lot of young players out there who have big aspirations. Let them see what it’s like. I’m sure they’ll love it even more.

NWSL News and Notes

Swimming Upstream The go90 app is up and running … I guess you could say that. I don’t know if it’s working as well as YouTube did, but I’m thankful the league is streaming the games on its site. As a player in the NWSL (and even when I haven’t been in the league), I really enjoy watching all the games, not just as a student of the game, but as a fan. So, the quality of the stream is of utmost importance when we want the best exposure for our league as possible.

Up Is Down, Down Is Up Teams that usually win are losing and teams that usually lose are winning. It’s fun to watch each week. It’s like musical chairs. Everyone has a shot, and that’s good.

Youth Should Be Served The 19-year-old American Mallory Pugh has signed with the Washington Spirit, making her the youngest American to play in the NWSL. American. That means there have been younger players in the league, but they have come from other countries. It’s a big deal here because of the way our college system works, but in nearly every other country it’s normal to have teenagers on pro teams. I’ve played with players as young as 15. Here it just feels like we’re playing with 15 year olds … sometimes. #rookies #kids #jokes #kinda.

Quick Turns

Back to School We had a representative from Southern New Hampshire University come to talk to Breakers players after training one day this week. We recently announced a partnership with the university that gives players and staff a discount on its online programs and classes. It is one of the coolest (not the coolest, because that’s obviously Dunkin’) sponsorships I’ve ever seen for a soccer team. (Except for when I played in Finland and my club had a grocery store sponsor. We got free groceries.)

SNHU is also the official education partner of Major League and currently has about 50 players enrolled. That’s rad. Makes you kinda wanna go back to school. A little bit maybe.

Drink of the Week Passion Tango Iced Tea from Starbucks

Teammate of the Week It’s Natasha Dowie. I’m choosing Tash because she asked to be in my blog. That means she reads my blogs and knows she hasn’t been mentioned. In addition to what we see each week on the field, Tash is a good egg and a joy to be around. It’s also easy to make fun of her which is like my favorite thing about a person. So, here you are Tash! Mentioned!