AUCKLAND, July 19 (Reuters) – The United States brought the issue of mental wellness to the fore at the Women’s World Cup on Wednesday by announcing the launch of a new initiative for underserved communities after the tournament.
The project was announced in collaboration with the non-profit Common Goal as part of the emotional defense of the US Naomi Girma The Players’ Tribune post in memory of her Stanford University teammate, Katie Meyer, who died by suicide in March 2022.
“Any time I talk about Katie it’s obviously emotional, and then just with everything coming out today, it brings all those emotions back to the surface,” said forward Sophia Smith, who also played at Stanford.
“Everything we do now is for Katie.”
The Common Goal initiative will provide mental health training to coaches from more than 15 youth sports organisations, targeting issues including anxiety, depression and loneliness, following the World Cup.
“It’s long overdue that our soccer community puts mental health at the forefront when we discuss player care,” Common Goal USA Executive Director Lilli Barrett-O’Keefe said in a statement.
The United States is seeking an unprecedented third straight title, and fifth overall, at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, starting its campaign on Saturday against Vietnam.
Defender Emily Fox, who is competing in her first World Cup, said the squad often discusses the “external pressures” that come with competing at the highest level of her sport.
“I have a sports psych that I talk to that helps me a lot, and then it’s (about) following your teammates who are sharing the experience with you,” Fox said.
America’s soccer players are the latest athletes to take up the cause of mental health, after Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles and four-time tennis major Naomi Osaka helped turn the tide on a topic once seen as taboo. in high level sport.
“It’s a big thing to rely on your teammates and know that we’re all in this together,” Smith said. “Whatever the feelings may be.”
Reporting by Nathan Frandino in Auckland, writing by Amy Tennery; Edited by Peter Rutherford
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