As the world marveled at the 2023 Women’s World Cup’s shocking upsets, a remarkable story from the past lingered in the shadows—the extraordinary journey of the first US Women’s National Soccer Team. Flame Bearers, an influential platform known for celebrating the achievements of elite female athletes, is set to spotlight these pioneering athletes with a special edition podcast and video series.
In an interview, Ruth Harker, one of the goalkeepers of the 1985 team, emphasizes the importance of supporting aspiring female athletes. “I think it’s every woman’s job to look out for the next generation,” she states. “Before my generation, there wasn’t a generation” of women who wore the stars and stripes before us. Her words reverberate as we delve into the legacy of these trailblazers.
Elevating the visionaries
Jamie Mittelman, the mind behind Flame Bearers, has always championed women’s stories, believing their narratives can inspire and empower communities and women worldwide. Her mission extends beyond mere recognition; it’s about giving remarkable women a platform to share their journeys, struggles, and triumphs in their own words.
Flame Bearers has previously celebrated elite athletes from diverse backgrounds, including those with disabilities and war torn countries including Syria, Afghanistan and many more. However, this special edition narrows its focus to provide a unique glimpse into the world of women’s soccer in the United States during the transformative 1980s.
Laying the groundwork for greatness
The 1985 US Women’s National Soccer Team was a shining example of determination and resilience. In an era when women’s soccer was overshadowed and underappreciated, these athletes had to build a legacy from scratch.
Ruth Harker addresses the inequities in sports, saying, “Women are playing in the World Cup now under their 30s, but it wasn’t financially a viable path for us because we’re making $10 a day. How do you pay rent? How do you eat?”
Their journey wasn’t just about winning matches; it was about breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations.
Paralleling the past
Michelle Akers, a living soccer legend who played on the 1985 team, is widely regarded as one of the sport’s all-time greats. Flame Bearers’ upcoming series is cohosted by Akers and provides her and her teammates a platform to share their untold stories. The series adds to Flame Bearers’ portfolio of groundbreaking content.
The podcast, titled ‘Special Edition: US Women’s Soccer Originals,’ began in audio and video formats during the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Flame Bearers has made significant strides in promoting women’s sports, including hosting a panel at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Women in Power Conference and an event coinciding with the Super Bowl.
“I didn’t realize while I was doing it what I was doing, what impact I might make, and what kind of platform that might give me at some point in my life,” Harker shares. “At the time, it gave me zero platform.” Flame Bearers aims to rectify that, ensuring the media celebrates the team’s legacy and makes their stories heard.
“I’m more focused on women raising women and doing everything we can to make sure that the next generation doesn’t struggle as hard as our generation,” Harker continues. Flame Bearers’ commitment to this cause represents a significant step towards recognizing the figures from the past who laid the foundations for the subsequent teams.
In celebrating the 1985 US Women’s National Soccer Team, Flame Bearers revisits history and rekindles the fire for future generations. Recalled in their own words, the stories of these pioneering women emphasize that true greatness is achieved not only by winning trophies but also by breaking barriers and forging new paths.