June 17, 2024

USWNT’s Naomi Girma is spearheading a mental health initiative to honor Katie Meyer

Ahead of the US women’s national team’s World Cup debut on Friday night, defender Naomi Girma and her teammates are promoting a mental health initiative in partnership with Common Goal and Fox Sports. This initiative was prompted by the loss of Girma’s close friend, former Stanford goalkeeper Katie Meyer, who died by suicide in March 2022.

The initiative includes a public service announcement released just before the start of the World Cup and a plan to help youth sports players and coaches identify and address mental health concerns. Fox Sports, who will broadcast the competition, also pledged to dedicate one percent of the competition’s broadcast time to mental health.

“Vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness,” tweeted Girma, a defender for San Diego Waves FC who will be making their World Cup debut. “Myself and my partners are determined to make sure everyone has the support they need. Launching the first mental health initiative of its kind with my friends at @CommonGoalOrg. Here’s to Katie.”

Girma wrote an essay for The Players’ Tribune describing the motivation for the initiative and dedicating this World Cup to Meyer. Girma played at Stanford alongside Meyer and American star Sophia Smith, winning a national championship in 2019.

Serve on the USA women’s national team’s 2023 World Cup roster

“You touched so many people’s lives in 22 years,” Girma wrote about Meyer’s impact on her life. “You wanted to change the world more than anyone I’ve ever known. So we’re going to make sure we carry on your legacy. We are going to make sure your light never goes out.”

Girma continued to mourn Meyer in the months following her death, but after a year, she was moved to act (via Yahoo Sports). She emailed Lilli Barrett-O’Keefe, executive director of Common Goal, a non-profit that helps soccer players support social causes.

Girma wanted to use the World Cup, which started on Thursday, as a platform to “launch a movement”. She teamed up with her colleagues, and together with Common Goal and Fox Sports, they plan to bring together “more than 15 sports-based youth development organizations working in underserved communities across the United States. The immersion will teach positive coping strategies and provide one-on-one support to communities that have historically lacked access to mental health resources,” according to A common goal.

The aim is to give coaches the skills and understanding to support players struggling with anxiety, depression and loneliness. In addition, the initiative plans to train players from select NWSL teams on “how to best integrate emotional well-being into their sporting environments.”

“It’s long overdue for our soccer community to put mental health at the forefront when we discuss player care,” Barrett-O’Keefe said in a statement. “We are determined to create a culture change, at all levels of the game, after the World Cup this summer. We are grateful to the players who are pushing this story forward and holding us all to account not just talking but acting.”

On Wednesday, they released a public service announcement to highlight the initiative. Girma and nine members of the US women’s national squad are among them, Smith, Trinity Rodman and Megan Rapinoe.

“Anytime I talk about Katie it’s obviously emotional and then just with everything coming out today, it brings out all those emotions,” Smith said in a statement Wednesday. news conference. “But I feel like I’m in a place where I can talk about it and talk about Katie positively. … Everything we do is about Katie now, so it means a lot.”

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