USWNT players honor Inspirational Women on jerseys for #SheBelieves match against England

From fellow U.S Soccer teammates to freedom fighters, the U.S Women’s Soccer Team will honor women who’ve inspired them as they take on England in the #SheBelieves Cup in Nashville, TN. The initiative falls in step with the #SheBelives Cup mission and coincides with the second day of Women’s History Month.

The #SheBelieves initiative dates back to 2015 ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and was established with the purpose of, “celebrating women and encouraging the female leaders of tomorrow to unapologetically pursue their dreams, athletic and otherwise” per the U.S Soccer media release.

Each player on the #SheBelieves roster has selected an inspiring woman and will wear her name on the back of her jersey today. The reasons each player selected their inspiring woman vary, as do the impact these women have had on the United States and the world. Below are a few of my favorites

Christen Press will honor abolitionist Sojourner Truth:

Sojourner Truth is the original intersectional activist – advocating for people who have layers of oppression being black and female. She is the ultimate hero for us today, centuries later, as we grapple with the same problems and try to better our world regarding these complex social issues.”

~Christen Press on Sojourner Truth

Kelley O’Hara will honor Heather O’Reilly:

My Irish soul sister! I always looked up to her even before I knew her as a person. Once I became teammates with her, she just embodies everything that I think makes the perfect teammate and friend. She’s also always looking out for the greater good of the group, has a positive outlook and you look to her to bring everybody along and follow their lead.”

~Kelley O’Hara on Heather O’Reilly

Megan Rapinoe will honor Audre Lorde:

Audre Lorde was unapologetically herself. She so beautifully and powerfully expressed all parts of herself and her experiences at once. She was a woman, a lesbian, a feminist, a person of color, a civil right activist and a poet. She understood so clearly that change does not come from playing by the existing set of rules.

“’Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference – those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.’” – Audre Lorde

~Megan Rapinoe on Audre Lorde (including a quote)

In the past four years, the #SheBelieves initiative has incorporated fans, inspirational women working at the local level, and more opportunities for the WNT to inspire and be inspired. However, the #SHeBelieves Cup is more than a positive community outreach initiative. Especially in a World Cup year, head coach Jill Ellis and the WNT see this as an opportunity to prepare to defend their 2015 World Cup title.

“Four or five years ago when we created this tournament, it was within the context of not just playing friendlies, ” Ellis told the media yesterday ahead of kick-off in Nashville this evening.

“These tournaments – this tournament and the one we had last year, the Tournament of Nations – I think they are very important in terms of our players game management situations, all these types of things that play in. The most important piece is that we’re playing against world-class teams before we get ready for the summer. All the experiences we take in now are massive in terms of us being ready.”

Brazil (No. 10), England (No. 4) and Japan (No. 8) join the United States (No. 1) in the 2019 #SheBelieves Cup. The four nations have all qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

USA and Japan played to a 2-2 draw February 27 in Chester, Pa. to open the tournament. England defeated Brazil, 2-1 in the tournament’s first match of the day. England now sits in first place heading into the match tonight against reigning SheBelieves Cup champions, the United States.

USA and England square off at Nissan Stadium in Nashville live at 3:30 CT/4:30 ET on FOX.

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