President Obama receives team jersey at last week's ceremony honoring the 2009 women soccer champions, Sky Blue. Photo/CD Brown.
President Obama hosted the 2009 reigning women's professioanl soccer champions, Sky Blue FC in the East Room of the White House last week.
The Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league launched in March 2009 and is the top-level pro women's soccer league in the US. It replaced WUSA, the world's first women's soccer league with all pro players, founded by Mia Hamm in 2000. Hamm formerly of the Washington Freedom soccer team helped spark national and international attention to the sport of women's soccer (especially among young girls), but the team was dismantled in 2003 due to low ticket sales.
With the FiFA World Cup being played now in South Africa, Sky Blue's captain Christie Rampone hopes the success of the event will spark even more interest in the soccer, especially for women.
Team owner Thomas Hofstetter described Sky Blue as "the best pro women's soccer league in the world", calling it "an attractive product in sports landscape."
The team had its share of challenges during the season. But despite dealing with multiple coaching changes, they made the playoffs at the last minute where they played three games on the road in eight days to win the Championship.
Several women soccer teams attended the White House event. Among them, President of the National Association for Girls and Women In Sports (NAGWS), Shawn Ladda, who brought along eight girls to witness the president honor the ranking women's soccer team.
Members of DC Scores, a locally based after-school organization led by Tohry Petty also attended. The organization offers soccer instruction, creative writing workshops, and helps students become involved in community service.
Washington is home to its own professional soccer team, the Washington Freedom who went toe-to-toe in a 0-0 draw with the Red Stars July 4th.
President Obama's daughter Malia, who turned 12 also on the 4th of July, plays soccer at her school, Sidwell Friends.
"Malia’s team did very well this summer, which I think is also important to know", said President Obama.
The WPS is creating a program called Get Active! that will sponsor 3-on-3 soccer tournaments, and help young people learn about the importance of living healthy, active lives. Get Active! correlates to First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative that also seeks to get youth active, as well as eating healthy.