CHICAGO (May 7, 2021) -- Volkswagen is teaming up with U.S. Soccer to empower and help advance female coaches in the United States as the presenting partner of the SheChampions Coaching Mentorship program. Introduced last fall, the SheChampions Coaching Mentorship Program pairs female candidates in Pro and “A” License coaching courses with an experienced mentor to guide them on their coaching journeys.
Volkswagen will also be directing $150,000 of its U.S. Soccer sponsorship over the next two years to the Jill Ellis Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid for 50 percent of the tuition for all female Pro, “A” and “B” License candidates accepted to the program. In addition, Grassroots License education fees for 50 female candidates will be covered by Volkswagen, supporting the growth of women in coaching at all levels of the game. The funds can help U.S. Soccer achieve its goal of doubling the number of elite professional female coaches by 2024.
“From the very beginning of our collaboration with U.S. Soccer, one of the primary objectives has been to empower women within the sport and the SheChampions Mentorship Program is doing just that,” said Kimberley Gardiner, senior vice president, marketing, Volkswagen of America. “We are excited to be part of a program with the goal of having a lasting positive effect on women soccer coaches and players.”
The SheChampions coaching initiative was developed by U.S. Soccer Coaching Education and former USWNT head coach Jill Ellis. The program aligns with the SheBelieves movement to inspire young women and girls to reach their dreams.
SheChampions coaching mentors work closely with their candidates to guide them through their coaching education course journey. The group includes some of the country’s most accomplished women’s soccer coaches, including Ellis, a two-time Women’s World Cup champion, former USWNT head coach and National Soccer Hall of Fame member April Heinrichs, current Under-20 USWNT head coach Laura Harvey, former USWNT defender and University of Washington assistant coach Tina Frimpong Ellertson as well as University of Hawaii head coach Michele Nagamine.
“In any coaching journey, mentorship and having positive and powerful role models are vitally important to one’s growth on and off the field,” said Penn State University head coach Erica Dambach, an inaugural SheChampions mentor. “We all know that learning is a lifelong process, and while we as mentors take great pride in working with the mentees, we know that we are becoming better coaches in the process as well. For U.S. Soccer to institute a program like this, and with the tremendous support of Volkswagen, I know this will reap benefits for female coaches and players for years to come.”
In the future, U.S. Soccer Coaching Education may expand the SheChampions program to provide mentors for select female candidates in “B” License coaching courses as well. Interested candidates who meet the course prerequisites can apply for coaching courses in the U.S. Soccer Learning Center. The next “A-Youth” and “B” course application windows will be open from May 5-19.
In addition to its presenting sponsorship of the SheChampions Coaching Mentorship Program, Volkswagen’s monetary contribution will help advance female coaching at all levels. While the Jill Ellis Scholarship Fund helps to cover the costs of elite coaching licenses for women, Volkswagen has also pledged funds towards Grassroots License courses, the first step of the U.S. Soccer Coaching Education pathway, in order to help grow the base of licensed female coaches nationwide.
For those interested in learning more about U.S. Soccer Coaching Education and its philosophy, individuals are encouraged to take the Federation’s free introductory Grassroots module, available in the Learning Center. The course takes about 20 minutes to complete and provides the first step for any coach in the Coaching Education pathway.
Volkswagen’s support of these unique initiatives will help drive a culture shift in coaching by directly targeting the challenges that women face in the industry. U.S. Soccer and Volkswagen aim to empower female coaches across the country as well as inspire the next generation of female players and coaches through critical representation in the game. The goals of the SheChampions Coaching Mentorship Program and Jill Ellis Scholarship Fund include:
Eroding financial barriers for women participating in higher coaching education.
Creating meaningful support, advocates and resources for individual female coaching candidates through the SheChampions Coaching Mentorship Program.
Developing a community of professional female coaches.
Showcasing examples of top-quality female coaches as models for other women by promoting the program.
Elevating important conversations about diversity in the soccer community by promoting the programs.
To help achieve these goals, Volkswagen plans to support a SheChampions video series, showcasing mentor and mentee stories to expand awareness around diversity in coaching and spotlight role models for women in the sport. Additionally, Volkswagen is expected to participate in an annual SheChampions event, bringing together program mentors and mentees to build community and connection. To safeguard the health of all participants, this year’s event will be hosted virtually.
In December 2020, Volkswagen supported the Jill Ellis Scholarship Fund as Presenting Partner of U.S. Soccer’s #GivingTuesday Campaign. #GivingTuesday is an international event celebrating and encouraging philanthropic giving. Volkswagen contributed $15,000 to the scholarship fund and directed an additional $100,000 of its U.S. Soccer sponsorship to support ten Team VW brand ambassadors’ preferred charities.