“Beautiful: Teaching Girls Soccer the Boston Breakers Way”
The Word Syndicate, a Massachusetts-based production company, is teaming up with the Boston Breakers, one of America’s premier women’s professional soccer teams, to produce a groundbreaking new film for girls called “Beautiful: Teaching Girls Soccer the Boston Breakers Way.”
Please remember: Kickstarter funding is all or nothing – if we don’t reach our fundraising goal in 30 days, “Beautiful” will not be made.
America is on top of the world when it comes to women’s soccer. US Women’s National Team stars like Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Hope Solo are regular favorites to win Women’s World Cups and Olympic gold medals.
In fields and parks across the country, millions of girls are playing the game. On any given day, a girls’ team may be playing on one field, while a team of boys is playing on the one next door. The games look nearly identical in most respects – a ball, two goals, cleats, shin guards, jerseys. Sometimes it’s only the ponytails that give it away.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons that there are so few resources for coaches and parents specifically about coaching and parenting girls who play soccer.
What we’re doing:
I’m passionate about soccer. I recently joined a health club solely because the televisions on the elliptical machines get an obscure cable channel that televises Italian and Spanish professional games.
But as much as I love watching Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, I love the women’s game even more. To me it’s truly the beautiful game. It’s more honest (less diving) and often played with more passion. And as the father of three daughters, what I love most about it is the sight of strong, confident women achieving collaborative greatness and competitive success in the greatest team sport in the world. In myriad ways, those women emulate the qualities I hope to instill in my own daughters as they grow.
Soccer offers huge benefits for girls. I’ve seen it myself on the practice field – the self-confidence, the friendships, the joy taken in hard work and achievement. And those are just the results you can see. Studies show that girls who play soccer and other sports reap benefits that stay with them throughout their lives, including:
- Better grades in school
- Better jobs after college
- Lowered risks of obesity and other health problems
- Lowered likelihood of involvement in early sexual activity
But girls’ soccer also has a lesser-known dark side. Young female players are different from boys in fundamental ways, both physically and psychologically – and the failure to address those differences has led to a rash of problems. Here are just a few:
- Girls who play soccer are more likely to suffer a serious concussion than any other young athlete except boys who play tackle football (more than boys who play soccer, lacrosse, or hockey).
- After puberty, girls are as much as six times more likely to suffer a serious knee injury (ACL, MCL) injury than a boy playing the same sport.
- Inappropriate coaching and competitive pressure to win and train harder and longer are resulting in higher rates of burnout and girls quitting, potentially depriving them of a lifetime of benefits.
- The top women’s coaches in the world all say that girl athletes process information and feedback very differently from boys – but that those differences aren’t widely understood or regularly incorporated into youth coaching.
Too often, adults approach girls’ soccer as if it were the same as the boys’ game, or coach it the same way their high school coach coached them.
“Beautiful: Teaching Girls Soccer the Boston Breakers Way” will explore the unique characteristics of the young female athlete, and examine proactive approaches to teaching girls the game the right way and to avoiding pitfalls like injuries and burnout.
Aspects of the female athlete that are misunderstood can often be turned into advantages. Because girls mature socially faster than boys, they care more about their social standing in a team structure. Because they’re reluctant to stand out, they may seem less competitive. But when that early social development can be focused and harnessed for the good of the team, it turns into a powerful tool for collective success.
“Beautiful” will explore techniques for teaching the whole girl, the entire person, not just the player.
Because of parents and coaches are the primary influences for girls who play soccer, and because of the wealth of information we’ve found in our search, each DVD will include two versions of “Beautiful.” One will focus on information and advice most relevant to parents, while the other will be specifically geared toward coaches.
Who we are: Boston Breakers
The Boston Breakers are one of the oldest top-level women’s teams in the US and one of the original women’s professional franchises.
Since they were established as one of the charter members of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), the Breakers have feature some of the top players on the planet on their roster, including US National Team legend Kristine Lilly and stars Amy Rodriguez, Heather Mitts, Amy LePeilbet, Lauren Cheney and Rachel Buehler, as well as international stars Kelly Smith (England) and Maren Meinart (Germany). The Breakers coaching staff has been led by luminaries such as Pia Sundhage and Tony DiCicco.
The current team will compete in the newly-launched National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), which is being supported by the national soccer federations of the US, Canada and Mexico. The roster features current and former US National Team members Sydney Leroux, Heather O’Reilly and Cat Whitehill and Canadian National Team star Rhian Wilkinson, and star Australian striker Kyah Simon.
As part of a renewed commitment to promoting a healthy and development-oriented approach to girls’ soccer, this year the team established the Boston Breakers Academy for girls ages 8 through 12. The Academy focuses on the skills of the game, developing an appreciation for sport and a positive work ethic, and teaching basic principles that lead to success on the field and off.
Members of the current team and Head Coach Lisa Cole will be contributing to “Beautiful,” appearing alongside nationally-recognized experts in positive coaching techniques, sports medicine and girls’ athletics.
Who we are: The Word Syndicate (Ralph Ranalli)
I’ve been a writer and content producer my entire adult life. Before founding The Word Syndicate, I was a television producer for PBS (WGBH-Boston), a multimedia producer and journalist for Boston.com and the Boston Globe, and a newspaper reporter and author. I am also an adjunct professor of digital journalism at Emerson College.
I have a track record of throwing myself into projects and causes that interest me and that I care deeply about. For part of my career I covered organized crime and wrote a book (“Deadly Alliance”) about the FBI’s organized crime informant program. I co-founded a First Amendment advocacy project that held public events raising awareness about threats to free speech and expression.
Now I’m a multiplatform storyteller for clients who are mostly nonprofits, including an agency that works with developmentally disabled adults, a regional skin cancer foundation, and a nonpartisan political think tank that promotes research-based, collaborative public policymaking. As a video producer, I specialize in buzz-worthy content and my projects have included a parody of the opening scene of “The Godfather” with Boston Mayor Tom Menino in the Marlon Brando role.
In the soccer world, I am the president of Newton Girls Soccer, the largest girls-only, nonprofit, town-based soccer program in New England. I have three daughters ranging in age from kindergarten to U12, who I have coached since they were old enough to play.
Where your money goes:
In addition to sweet rewards, you will receive the satisfaction of knowing that a talented team of videographers, producers, animators and graphic artists will be putting your donation to work on a truly groundbreaking film project. We also need funding for location and equipment rentals, footage and music licensing fees, web hosting, promotion and DVD production cost.
Thanks for your support.
Ralph Ranalli, Principal and Executive Producer, The Word Syndicate
Lee Billiard, General Manager, Boston Breakers
W.C. Fields once famously said: “One should never work with animals or children.” Well, we’ve got the animals part covered, but we will be working with a bunch of kids whose dream is to win the Ballon d’Or, not an Oscar. It’s worked out OK so far, but you never know. We will also have to juggle production around the busy schedule of a professional soccer team trying to train hard, be competitive, and build a new professional league all at the same time.