In Honor Of The Women’s World Cup, These Young Girls Show Their Best #Gameface

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Not sure about you guys but if you are sick of hearing about all the FIFA scandals, relax, because this post is going to have NOTHING to do with that!

However it does have everything to do with soccer, and a group of super cute, yet badass girls.

In honor of the Women’s World Cup being held in Canada, lifestyle and clothing brand Wildfang, who showcase the best of tomboy style in what they are calling an “untapped female consumer market”, asked photographer, mom and athlete Andrea Corradini to photograph a series of 5-14 year old girls right before they stepped out onto the soccer pitch to play in a match for their blog.

While it’s important to pay attention to the stars hitting the field this summer all over Canada, we love that Wildfang wanted to shine the spotlight on future generations of female athletes who hopefully won’t have to battle gender barriers such as pay, sponsorship and exposure if they choose to play professionally.

The idea of girls having their own role models in various sports to look up to is still lacking due to the bias that people don’t want to watch female sports.

In an interview with BBC sports, Nicola Adams who became the first female to win a gold medal in the event and who also fought for women to be able to compete in boxing at an Olympic level, argued the impact of girls having role models to look up to in sport.

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“Women need more sporting role models and the only way that’s going to happen is to have more coverage of women’s sport on TV and in the media generally,” she said.

“During London 2012 it became normal to see sportswomen on our screens and newspapers. That needs to become the norm again because women need to see for themselves that it’s possible to be successful.”

Thanks to FIFA’s scandal (we promise that’s the last mention!) it has unknowingly given the Women’s World Cup some added attention. This year’s cup also has some major broadcasters on board to show the matches, which is a huge step forward for the women. Let’s not forget EA Sports including female soccer players in its FIFA 16 video game.

Representation is everything and when you look at the younger generation of players in Andrea’s photographs, it would be a shame for each of these girls to lose interest in this sport due to subtle gender cues and ideologies telling them they should focus on something else.

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We asked Andrea about the series and why it is so much more than just a photography project:

How did you come up with the idea and what prompted you to do this photo series?

Credit goes straight to Wildfang for this idea.  They are passionate about women’s sport, and they had the vision to really show what the next generation of young women athletes are all about – fearless, raw, and fiercely talented.

Given the upcoming World Cup in Canada, why do you feel it is important for young girls to see role models playing at the highest level?

Because it’s important for young women to have role models who are strong, confident and driven. That’s what I want for my daughter. It’s important that they understand what’s possible with hard work and dedication. It’s important that they learn can make an impact on the world through their sport if that is the avenue about which they are most passionate!

Where did you find all the girls in your series?

Honestly, we did zero casting. This wasn’t about shooting models, it was about heroing athletes. We just reached out to some local coaches in Portland and explained the concept. Explained that we wanted to hero badass young women who loved to play soccer. Most of these young women came straight from training or just before training—zero styling, zero casting—just a group of young athletes who love their sport.  One of them happens to be my daughter (Savannah – pictured below), who plays sports competitively, and she teaches me everyday about confidence and fearlessness as an athlete in her generation.

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There is always so much emphasis put on boys playing sport in school, college and at a professional level. How would you like to see the status quo changed for girls?

I’m super confident about the future of girls playing sport in school.  There are so many more competitive clubs and amazing coaches who find great pride and passion in coaching young women.  Living in Oregon, we have our own professional women’s soccer team – The Thorns – they are idols to so many girls and show that the path is tangible with super hard work and dedication.  I’m very optimistic.

The girls you shot are at an age where gender roles start to become a prominent part of their lives through pressure from the media, society etc. Yet you have captured the essence of girls who are unhindered by these pressures yet. What message do you hope your images will give to other girls?

Oh I love this question, thank you for asking it.  I came away from this photo shoot thinking, “the girls did all the hard work, I just pushed a button.”  And it’s true.  There is just a raw confidence in there that I have hope will ground them.  My wish for these images is that any girl that sees these photos sees a bit of themselves in them, whether through the eye squint, the unbridled smile, or the ultimate stare-down.  They see a little piece of themselves and they feel inspired. The next time they hit the pitch, the court or the track, they proudly show their #gameface.

How important is it for parents to give girls the same opportunities as boys when it comes to sports?

It’s not just about equal opportunities, it’s about equal support, equal motivation and equal encouragement. It’s about showing her that she can be exactly who she wants to be, and that being strong, confident, passionate and driven is not just ‘okay’ or ‘acceptable’ – it’s important.

What do you hope young girls who see these images will take away and implement into their own lives?

I hope, through these girls, they really see an image of themselves.  That they never feel they need to sacrifice who their authentic self is.  These are our future leaders, and it’s our collective duty as brands, photographers, parents, coaches, and mentors to allow them to see that who they are is just perfect.

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Each of these girls shares their nickname with Andrea, and one quote about themselves.

Tess, 11 says her teammates call her “fierce”, and that cheetahs are her favorite animal because “they’re almost as fast as I am”.

Malea, also 11, says her teammates call her “competitive”. Her special skill is juggling the ball and her record is 1065.

Nine year old Annika is known for her speed, and says when she grows up she wants to be an architect and a professional soccer player.

Six year old Naomi shares her nickname – “talented” and is proud to share she is better at math than all the boys in her class.

The oldest girl in the group Savannah (Andrea’s daughter), 14, says her nickname is “baller” and cites her coach as her hero.

“He can see the potential in me that others can’t and he always pushes me,” she said.

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This is so much more than a series of badass images, it’s an ideology that we are striving for with the movement for gender equality. There is a huge need for girls to grow up seeing other as role models in industries that don’t stereotype or limit them.

It’s no accident that soccer is the most popular sport in the world. It is the perfect platform to showcase brilliance, confidence and women who play unhindered by gender. Here’s hoping the 2015 World Cup will be a game changer for everyone who watches.

To see the full line-up of girls in Andrea’s series, click this link here.

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