The National Soccer Coaches Association of America is striving for equality by starting a "Gay, Lesbian and Ally" website. The site offers resources for athletes and coaches such as blogs, confidential and anonymous services, as well as list of LGBT themed events and programs. National Soccer Coaches Association of America is an organization founded in 1941 which aims to educate and inspire coaches to improve the experience of soccer across the United States.
NSCAA’s core values include: learn, participate and belong. Through many nationwide clinics and programs, NSCAA aims to educate coaches who will ultimately advance the sport of soccer. The organization also encourages participation which helps create a bond between individuals passionate about the sport. The annual NSCAA convention offers an opportunity to meet other coaches and celebrate together the game they are passionate about. The last of the three core values of the National Soccer Coaches Association is to provide a sense of inclusion. Members of the NSCAA are provided with many networking opportunities to help them do the best they can to offer a great learning environment for athletes. By launching the "Gay, Lesbian and Ally" website, NSCAA takes a big step towards equality in the sport of soccer. By providing the website, the organization promotes the inclusion of LGBT athletes, coaches and spectators in the sport. The resources can provide coaches with tools that will endorse an equal opportunity for all athletes.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
"The point is not to have kids come out before they're ready," Woog said. "The kid wants to be on the soccer field. He looks up to his coach. The time he puts in is really important to him. So coaches need tools -- what they say, what they don't say, the words they use, the examples they use -- to create an atmosphere where all kids feel comfortable to achieve to their potential."
Besides offering advice for coaches on how to be allies to their LGBT athletes, the National Soccer Coaches Association is providing help for LGBT coaches themselves as well as their colleagues. Several months ago, Micah Porter, a high school track coach in Colorado came out as gay. After coming out, he received many letters from other coaches telling their stories, many written anonymously. Having a national association openly support LGBT athletes and coaches can serve as an inspiration for others to come out as well. The greater number of coaches who are publicly out could potentially make students feel more comfortable with coming out on sports teams in all disciplines.
Just a month before the London Olympics in 2012, the U.S. Women's Soccer Team midfielder came out as gay. In an interview with OUT Magazine, Rapinoe said:
“I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out,” she says. “I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out. People want -- they need -- to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.”
"To be honest I've been thinking about it for a while, trying to find a time that works, now leading up to the Olympics, people want to get personal stories," she says. "Our team in general is in a position where people look up to us and kids look up to us. I embrace that and I think I have a huge LGBT following. I think it's pretty cool, the opportunity that I have, especially in sports. There's really not that many out athletes. It's important to be out and to live my life that way." as she told USA TODAY Sports.
Rapinoe’s teammate for the U.S. National Team, Abby Wambach also made a statement about LGBT athletes by marrying another professional soccer player Sarah Huffman. In July of 2013 the couple were joined in Hawaii by friends and family as they exchanged vows. In June of 2013, Abby Wambach broke an international scoring record by scoring her 160th goal in 207 games she played for the United States.
"I know that I'll end up being a role model for many, many people out there for all kinds of reasons. My first hope is for being a genuine, honest and good person, then a great soccer player, and then down the line, the choice I've made to marry not only my best friend and teammate, but the love of my life." Wambach told ESPN.
"I can't speak for other people, but for me, I feel like gone are the days that you need to come out of a closet. I never felt like I was in a closet. I never did. I always felt comfortable with who I am and the decisions I made," Wambach said.
Thomas Hitzlsperger's recent coming out has also impacted the equality movement in sports in a tremendous way. This German National Team midfielder appeared on the pitch for international soccer powerhouses such as Everton and Ashton Villa. This 31-year-old soccer player retired from the sport in September due to ongoing injuries. But although he is now retired, his coming out story significantly impacts the equality movement in sports.
“I'm coming out about my homosexuality because I want to move the discussion about homosexuality among professional sportspeople forwards.” Hitzlsperger told Germany's Die Zeit newspaper
Hitzlsperger’s announcement in the light of Russia hosting this year’s winter Olympics can only help strengthen the equality movement for athletes.
Along with publicly out soccer players such as Lori Lindsey, Megan Rapinoe Thomas Hitzlsperger and Robbie Rogers, having a such powerful sports organization such as NSCAA stand up for equality for all athletes, serves as a monumental step forward towards equality in sports.