New professional women's soccer team will soon hit local shores
Speaker 1: (00:00)
A new sports franchise is making San Diego its home. The recently announced San Diego way. Football club will be one of two new teams and the national women's soccer league and their first season will start in March, but the NWSL, the top division in us, women's soccer just ended a tumultuous season. One that is reeling from multiple abuse, scandals, culminating in multiple investigations and major leadership changes here to talk about the new team as well as the league's recent turmoil is Jill Ellis, San Diego wave FC team, president, and former head coach of the us women's national team. Joe. Welcome.
Speaker 2: (00:37)
Thank you, Jade. Love lovely to be here. So
Speaker 1: (00:40)
Your new franchise recently debuted its name. Why did you feel that San Diego wave FC was the right name for the team?
Speaker 2: (00:47)
You know, when we came here, it was, uh, you know, we felt, it was really important to kind of gauge, uh, you know, the local people. And, and we did, uh, you know, have we hired a brand content person who went out and did a lot of, you know, it wasn't even so of give us a name. It was like, what do you think of when you think of this, uh, you know, this incredible area in city. And it just kept coming back to, you know, beautiful coastline, the beaches, the sun, the weather, the climate, and so more and more, um, it just seemed like a name that would resonate. And then we had seen her had several names for them out there and, and got a lot of positive feedback. And I think, you know, I think why I like the wave it's, it's obviously symbolic of the area, but it's also, you know, I see it as a, as a very powerful force, um, you know, that can shape a lot of things and it's part of, part of a greater, greater collective. So it just so fit on so many levels.
Speaker 1: (01:36)
Um, and what made you want to be part of this new franchise in San Diego and to join as new team president,
Speaker 2: (01:43)
It was really this opportunity to come and, you know, stay connected to the sport I love, but essentially build a team from, you know, slightly different lens, right. You know, as a coach, you're looking at players, your immediate coaches, but now it was looking so a broader at, you know, a general manager, a chief revenue officer, a coach. So I very much felt I was creating opportunities for others. This game has been such a gift for me and to be able to kind of do that and build something exciting and be competitive, it just all kind of fit together. And ultimately, I think I love a challenge and, and that really was, uh, was this as opportunity presented itself to me
Speaker 1: (02:19)
For the uninitiated who may hear the word football and think of touchdowns rather than, uh, goals. Uh, can you describe what originally captivated you about the sport of soccer?
Speaker 2: (02:31)
Well, I grew up in England, um, where it is, uh, you know, it's known as football, uh, most, most around the world except America actually, but, but, you know, I grew up with football. Um, the interesting thing was as a young girl over there, there were no opportunities for me to play. So it really wasn't until I moved to the U S uh, when I was almost 16, that I had the first opportunity to play. You know, my father was a coach, but when you grow up in, in Europe, it's again, it's everywhere. It's on television. It's, it's part of the local community. And, you know, I just think it was something that was always in my blood and passionate about. I, listen, I think every, every youngster in this country gets a chance to play it. It's a very inclusive sport in terms of, you know, it doesn't matter your size, uh, you, your, you can play the spool and it's obviously this country is incredibly welcoming to both, both men and women. And can you tell me
Speaker 1: (03:20)
A little about where the team is now and when we can see them take the pitch?
Speaker 2: (03:26)
We have a draft here in December. We bond both the expansion draft, which allows us to take players from other teams. And then we also have a, essentially a college draft. They call it the super draft where, um, you know, college athletes register. So two mechanisms for getting players. And then in addition to that, we're obviously looking international, we get five international spots. So we, our, our general manager and our head coach are heavily into just building out this roster so that we have an incredible lineup, you know, for, for next March. So yeah, things are, things are starting to become very real where, you know, securing our facilities, um, training facilities and our matched facilities, uh, to be ready to go next March.
Speaker 1: (04:03)
Um, you know, this season was particularly trying to the national women's soccer league, its players and its fans after multiple scandals, uh, arose involving accusations of sexual harassment and abuse resulting in major leadership changes across the league. How have the scandals impacted you as you build this new franchise in San Diego?
Speaker 2: (04:24)
Well, I think, you know, first, I, I think like everybody on a personal level, I mean, it was, you know, it was incredibly hard to, to read and to hear that these players come forward because, um, you know, just anger, disgust, uh, you know, sadness, there was a multitude of emotions. Um, you know, and as I listened to these players, you know, a player in particular Sinead fairly, you know, she came forward and basically said, you know, I want there to be a, a purpose for my pain. You know, here she was brave enough to come forward and tell this story and, uh, you know, endured a lot. And now I think, you know, what that gave me was, okay, now we have to honor this person's courage by being the difference by making the change. Uh, so everything from just, you know, internally what you can do as an organization to create a safe environment, transparent environment for the players, but also institution, you know, our league.
Speaker 2: (05:12)
I think it was, uh, a huge reflection point. Um, a moment for us to kind of look at the infrastructure within the organization, or how did this fail? How did this happen? And really then commit to, you know, moving this, moving this forward. I mean, I think there's so many incredibly remarkable things about this sport and the opportunity to play in our country. Now we need to make sure we do it right. And I think, you know, for me, I've come through, you know, this and been on board meetings and been in these Endevor cell meetings. And I really think that this crisis has kind of galvanized people, made people kind of wake up and realize, listen, we, we have to be better. So I'm actually energized about the future of the sport. I think it's going to be, you know, it's going to take time. Um, it, it, you know, we want it to be better and we want it to be right. So I think that's, you know, that's what I hear from the ownership. I hear it from, you know, the, the general managers, the coaches, everybody just wants to, uh, to create an environment for these players where we can actually be, you know, uh, not just a safe Haven, but a showcase in terms of treating professional athletes, professional female athletes, the right way.
Speaker 1: (06:18)
Um, and one cause you've been involved with is fighting the gender gap in the coaching ranks, you are involved with an initiative to increase the number of female coaches in the sport. How did that become a priority that you wanted to address?
Speaker 2: (06:31)
You know, I honestly, I got so tired of hearing people say, gosh, we're all the female coaches, you know, our numbers are declining and, you know, at some point you, you sort of, you know, you kind of hear that enough, you think, okay, what can I do to, to be a difference here? You know, I, I remember when I first became the head coach, I had a, a woman reached out to me and she said, you know, Joe, you have a responsibility to be a voice, be visible and build a community. And that was never lost on me. And so as I suddenly started looking at these numbers, I said, you know, what can we do? What can I do to help? I think the single biggest thing that's, uh, you know, often a setback for, for female coaches, not just in artists in our sport is that you don't really have a community.
Speaker 2: (07:10)
You know, you're in the minority in terms of numbers. And you kind of don't realize that, you know, when you're the majority of people, opening doors for you and creating contacts and, and you have someone to bounce ideas off. And when there's very few of you that that's a smaller resource to tap into. So we created this mentorship program. So every coach that comes in to take their, a license, they then get assigned a mentor that say, you know, someone who's been in the game for a long time credible experience. And that's really why we try and to sort of strengthen the position of the female coach. Hmm.
Speaker 1: (07:42)
Now not to add too much pressure here, but San Diego fans are hungry for a championship. Uh, the chargers left town without winning a super bowl, the Padres are still working to, to win their first world series as a two time world cup winning coach. What do you think is the most important factor in building a championship culture?
Speaker 2: (08:01)
What you try and do as a, as a coach or as a leader is listening you at the end of the day, you can't have a guarantee the result of the game, but what you can guarantee is building a platform on which you can find success so that, you know, what does that look like? It means providing all the resources for our coach. It means, you know, a training facility that state-of-the-art, it's, it's, uh, it's personnel that can support the players. It's, it's creating this infrastructure. It's creating an environment for our fans to want and kind of be a portal. And again, you want that to translate into results and I'm not patient person, so I'd love that to happen, um, pretty quickly. But I also think what we've got in terms of the commitment from ownership in San Diego itself, I mean, this is a phenomenal community that loves its soccer that, um, I think will champion these women that will, you know, embrace them.
Speaker 2: (08:51)
And so now you've got the force of not just having people in the crew, in the crowd to cheer you on, but you also have all the resources on the, on the field for your players to be successful. So, you know, I'm very optimistic. I kind of said this publicly many times, we're not going to be an expansion team that is coming kind of limping into the league and, and hoping to grow and pay our dues. Um, yeah, we wanna, we want to make some noise and, and come in and, um, you know, really hit the ground running.
Speaker 1: (09:16)
I've been speaking with the San Diego wave FC president and former us women's national team coach, Jill Ellis. Jill, thank you so much for joining us in
Speaker 2: (09:25)
Best of luck. My absolute pleasure. Thanks so much.
San Diego is home to a new professional soccer team, the San Diego Wave Fútbol Club.
The franchise is one of two new teams joining the National Women's Soccer League, the highest division in U.S. women's soccer, and will begin play this spring.
San Diego Wave FC team president and two-time World Cup-winning former coach Jill Ellis joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to talk about how the club chose its name, why San Diego is the right place for the team and the scandals that have marred the NWSL's recent season.
"I mean I think there are so many incredibly remarkable things about this sport and the opportunity to play it in our country," Ellis said. "Now, we need to make sure we do it right."