Anticipation of Women’s World Soccer Cup

1971 Yucaipa High School graduate Denise Rapinoe (left) pictured with U.S. soccer star daughter Megan.

The start of today’s Women’s World Cup Soccer is getting comments close to home. Among the thoughts of Denise Rapinoe are those of discrimination to women soccer players, saying the World Cup stage could influence such change. Mirjam Swanson stated the defending champion, U.S. women’s national soccer team is the pinnacle of women's sports, however they are not being paid accordingly.

Norma Mendez thinks conditions for female soccer players will improve only if Team USA wins the World Cup. Mendez along with Sarai Stamper and Shaheen Roostai stressed the importance of the World Cup being a learning tool for young soccer players. Others like Scott Haydis and Liam Muirhead are predicting the World Cup could attract new soccer players of all ages to the sport.

Stamper, the Yucaipa High School girls coach commented, “When a young girl watches a professional player in her same position, I think she can be inspired, taught, and led in ways that no coach can explain.”

Stamper noted the U.S. women’s national soccer team will be going for its international leading fourth World Cup title. Stamper once held the all-time career scoring record at YHS before attending Cal Baptist, where she was inducted into its athletic hall of fame.

Roostai of Yucaipa says she believes the World Cup will create a major positive influence on local youth. “Soccer leagues are already doing their part.”

Roostai is vice president of the Riverside Sports Commission. Her office hosted the recent 230-team COPA LA-2019 LA Galaxy Youth Soccer Tournament.

Yucaipa’s boys soccer coach Dennis O’Neal recalled the success of the 1999 U.S. women’s national soccer team.

“I see this current team having equally, if not a bigger impact on the growth of girls youth soccer,” wrote O’Neal. “I think it’s important that girls see that with hard work and proper training, they can someday reach that level but also make a quality living doing so.”

Denise Rapinoe will have the closest view of the World Cup. Rapinoe, a 1971 graduate of Yucaipa High School, is the mother of Team USA’s outspoken co-captain Megan Rapinoe. In a phone interview, Denise Rapinoe said the World Cup has historically been used as a platform by both women and men. The older Rapinoe said she can feel momentum mounting to the 2019 World Cup.

“I think Megan wants to encourage young people to have their dreams,” said Denise Rapinoe. “Social issues are her passions. She is honest and transparent and tells kids they can do the same. Kids love her.”

Denise hopes to stay in France for a month to watch her famous daughter play.

Swanson added that the women’s national team has been more successful than the men’s. Swanson was a long time reporter in the Inland Empire who now writes for the Los Angeles News Group. “The women’s national team is already plenty popular.”

She says the proof comes from the number of big sponsors it attracts, yet she still doesn't see enough of that revenue reaching the women.

Mendez, the Citrus Valley HS girls coach, was a member of the 2006 Mexican U-20 National Team that played in Russia. At the time, she said women soccer players had little name recognition. “They are now doing a better job of promoting women but it's still getting half as much as the men,” said Mendez. “Hopefully, in the future the women will get equal pay and fill the stadiums.” She said her varsity team will watch some of the World Cup as part of summer training. Mendez was an All-County soccer player during her playing days at YHS.

Scott Haydis thinks the emphasis of the World Cup should be strictly on soccer and not on political causes. Haydis is director/player of his family-owned Inland Empire Adult Soccer League based in Loma Linda. Like O’Neal, he credited the 1999 Women’s World Cup as a factor for soccer’s growth.

“The World Cup can stir up parents, spark youth and increase the rosters of adult soccer teams. It gave me the bump to start playing,” said Haydis.

Liam Muirhead thinks when the U.S. women’s national soccer team does well it “ignites the fire” in adults as well as in young girls. Muirhead is president, coach, and player of the Yucaipa Adult Premier League. He is also a director and coach at Yucaipa Valley Youth Soccer Organization.

“The World Cup is all the current talk. Lots of the girls want to be like Carli Lloyd and are buying her jersey.”

Muirhead has played on numerous pro and semi-pro teams in England.

“I think soccer fever has reached Yucaipa,” said Muirhead.

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