USWNT captain Sauerbrunn writes open letter to New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – The captain of the U.S. women’s national team, Becky Sauerbrunn, has written an open letter to Kiwis in which she praises New Zealand for its commitment to gender equality and women’s rights, saying there “could not be a more fitting host for our base camp during the first round” of the Women’s World Cup later this year.

Sauerbrunn’s letter was published Tuesday by the New Zealand media organization Stuff. She said the World Cup from July 20 to Aug. 20 in New Zealand and Australia “will not only showcase the supreme talent and skill of the world’s best female soccer players but will also demonstrate the value of empowerment and the growth of the women’s game.

“I know I speak for my teammates when I say we are thrilled to be playing our group stage matches in New Zealand.”

The USWNT played warm-up matches in Auckland and Wellington in January and Sauerbrunn said the American players had learned about the diverse culture of New Zealand and had “truly enjoyed” playing at stadiums which will host World Cup matches.

“Over the years, I have been fortunate to play in three Women’s World Cup tournaments and experience the growth of the game in real time,” Sauerbrunn said. “With each passing year, women’s soccer has continued to break barriers but we have so much further to go.

“That said, I know we will get to the place we want to be through the strength, resilience and commitment of players and fans from around the globe.”

Sauerbrunn said while New Zealanders obviously will be cheering for their national team, the Football Ferns, she hoped local fans will embrace the world champions as their “second-favorite” team.

“We cherish our status as role models and know that our push for equality has inspired people around the world,” she said. “While we are proud of the impact we’ve made off the field, we are also intense competitors on the pitch.

“We know firsthand how difficult it is to win a World Cup and I know my teammates and I will give everything at this World Cup to lift another trophy.”

Sauerbrunn said as the teams look forward to the World Cup “we must also keep in mind the positive impact that women’s soccer has had on the lives of countless women and girls.

“Our game has provided them with a platform to express their creativity, develop their skills and forge lasting friendships.”

She added “perhaps the most important effect of this World Cup will be how these 64 games will continue to fuel, empower and inspire women and girls – and people of all ages – around the globe.

“Together we can continue to empower women and girls, promote gender equality and inspire the next generation of athletes.”


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