Brandi Chastain looks back on her iconic picture from 1999 with pride knowing how the 99ers helped grow both soccer and courage on and off the field.
July 10, 1999. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California was jammed with 90,185 soccer-crazed fans ready to see the Unites States women’s soccer team defeat China to win the World Cup. Those who were in attendance that Saturday, including President Bill Clinton, will never forget Brandi Chastain’s left-footed penalty kick to the upper corner and her reaction that followed.
Chastain was criticized at the time by some for taking off her jersey in the impromptu celebration. It was not ladylike, professional. Men were allowed to take off their jerseys, not women. Today, Chastain looks at the iconic photo with a ton of pride.
“It’s just a reminder that I had an opportunity to play on and with some of the best players and on a great team,” Chastain told FanSided. “We had a really incredible moment, a moment that changed the landscape in terms of the sheer numbers and attention to women’s soccer and I think be a catalyst for all of women’s sports.”
While it is true that the game has continued to grow with more fans watching and more playing, an estimated 30 million women playing the sport globally, there are also more women’s voices impacting sport. Some are advocating for equal pay in soccer, others or for equal quality weight rooms at the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Chastain looks at the picture from 1999 in her sports bra breaking the “rules” with pride that the impact was not just on the field.
“I believe it’s leaking out into the other parts of the world where young girls are now being courageous to have a voice and to stand up,” Chastain said.
Brandi Chastain is giving back the sport that’s given her so much
Chastain continues to give back to the game and build courage in young women coaching high school and club soccer. She remains steadfast in her goal to one day coach on the US Women’s National soccer team.
“It’s not one of those things where you are going down a pathway you are destined to get there,” Chastain said. “Timing in sports is sometimes not up to the player. All I can do is continue to prepare and find new ways to be invigorated by the game and to stay ready and that’s what I did as a player and that’s what I am trying to do as a coach.”
No matter what the timeline or if the opportunity comes for Chastain, she will always be a soccer lifer. There will be no retiring to the golf course or starting up a business venture leaving the game that means so much to her behind.
“I do love the game,” Chastain said. “I love the players, I love the environment, I adore the fans. I love the process of having problems put in front of you and finding ways to create solutions to those problems and manipulating the opponent is probably one of the most enjoyable things I used to be able to do on the field as a player. Being a part of that is always very exciting.”
Whether you are a soccer player or not, Chastain has a message that applies to whatever goal you are shooting for.
“Life is such a wonderful opportunity. It’s a blank canvas and we can all make choices if we prepare ourselves. I think everything is well within reach depending on how hard you are pushing to get there,” Chastain said.
Words to live by. Embrace the journey. And celebrate iconically when you get there.
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