Shawna Gordon & a community united thru sport & empowerment.
The next generation of women depends on the changes we promote today, and Shawna Gordon, Sky Blue FC midfielder, has been ready to score that for a while now.
That’s because women in sports are pushed to challenges that are not so common for the men on the field, like the absence of big sponsors and of course the difference in salary.
Founder of Football for Her, midfielder, and Nike stan, Shawna’s relationship with soccer started when she was only 4. Playing against the lack of recognition in sports, she offers training and mentorship for the young ones who need to hear that soccer is definitely a girl thing.
“Our mission is to educate, motivate, and develop confidence in girls on and off the pitch; helping them reach their goals regardless of their economic standing. We want to provide the representation that’s lacking in the sport of soccer.”
The program is not only about the opportunities Shawna herself was not given, it's also a call for action to bring to light what struggling with disparities between male and female players feels like.
In this exclusive chat, she talks about soccer and streetwear. Although Shawna doesn’t claim to be a sneakerhead, we know that leather cleats are an important part of her journey and that’s why we are here.
No less important though is seeing how all of it, combined with being a woman, might be a starting point to cause real change in the sports community.
What challenges do you have to face as a woman breaking into the professional soccer world?
There’s a lack of recognition and support for the women’s games which makes it tough to live like a full professional. Most girls have a side hassle and others, depending on where you’re playing, have a part-term job to make ends meet. Things are definitely getting better as a whole, especially here in the NWSL, but far from it. Our day-to-day is different from men in so many ways but I’ll name a few. We can start with the salary difference, which makes for a completely different lifestyle. Some women live with host families, budget for groceries, no expendable cash for anything outside of necessities to live. Then there are training facilities where some female clubs don’t have a locker room at the “stadium.” I’ve had practices at a facility where the grass is a foot long (not exaggerating), or we train on turf all week then play at our home field that’s grass.
“The list can go on, but to give you insight on another specific incident in regards to professionalism: We took a bus for 6 hours to play a night game and our organization forgot to order us food so the only thing that was open that late was a gas station for our post-game meal.”
You founded Football for Her as a program to empower and educate young women in soccer ― what's the overall message behind the mission?
Our mission is to educate, motivate, and develop confidence in girls on and off the pitch; helping them reach their goals regardless of their economic standing. We want to provide the representation that’s lacking in the sport of soccer. We want to keep girls active first and foremost but let them know about the opportunities that are out there for them! I started FFH for a few reasons, but when I began private training sessions with girls from low-income areas to well-off areas in Los Angeles I realized they all need help. No matter their resources, there was still a lack of female coaches and mentorship.
Sponsorships can be a huge source of income for pro-athletes, do you feel that female players face more challenges to sign those big contracts?
“Unfortunately with women’s soccer, unless you’re on the full national team, you won’t get a big sponsor.”
Now social media has helped some women get smaller deals, whether it’s a one-off collaboration or a long-term contract. I’m so grateful for the partnerships I have, and I know that my playing career is part of the reason brands choose to work with me. It’s just ironic that I get more boots, gear, and deals now than I did when I was contracted on a professional team. I worked so hard throughout my playing career, but as a pro athlete, we had to beg for a pair of cleats for the whole 7-month season. I honestly help my friends out who still play when I can with my contacts and personal partnerships now.
As a self-described streetwear lover, do you feel that your gender impacts your experience within that community as well ― particularly in sneaker culture?
I don’t consider myself a sneakerhead, but I do like having options! Honestly, I feel like we’re in a time that women within the sneaker community are finally being recognized. There’s a smaller percentage, but women are thriving in the social media space and our time is now to take advantage of it! My comfy athleisure/streetwear is now accepted as a female instead of being judged as lazy.
What are some athletic brands that you think are making a positive impact in terms of gender inclusivity?
I’m fortunate enough to work with some amazing brands that are pushing towards equality and inclusivity. Nike, Eastbay, and Uninterrupted are just a few.
It seems that class act has a new face and meaning.
Find all the ways streetwear can cause some serious changes in [metcha originals].