Known for her iconic victory pose at the 2019 World Cup in France, Megan Rapinoe’s on-field role on the US national team is changing as the team looks to qualify for the 2023 event.
The canny winger is now 36 and is certainly slowing down a bit. Off the field, however, Rapinoe is as outspoken as ever.
“I feel like I’m really enjoying and appreciating being back here and appreciating this moment and appreciating where I’ve been and how far I’ve come, and all the people that are with me and have been on this journey. forever,” she said. “I don’t know, I feel really present right now.”
Rapinoe is among the veterans who will play in the upcoming CONCACAF W Championship, which kicks off Monday in Monterrey, Mexico. The tournament determines the region’s four direct places in next summer’s World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, as well as a spot in the 2024 Olympics.
The team has a ton of new faces since winning the bronze medal at the Tokyo Games, including Sophia Smith, Ashley Sanchez, Alana Cook, Mallory Pugh and up-and-coming Trinity Rodman.
“The thing about Megan is that she is very important to this group. I mean obviously this is a younger group that we’re bringing in. There are many young players. So his experience going through adversity, going through tough times and coming to the top, his mentality, winning mentality, his knowledge and understanding, is very valuable to the group,” USA coach Vlatko Andonovski said.
Rapinoe has scored 62 goals with 72 assists in 189 games for the national team since his first call-up in 2006. He scored from a penalty in the United States’ win over the Netherlands in the 2019 World Cup final, and had two goals in the win over Australia by bronze in Tokyo last summer.
But along the way she hadn’t been afraid to use her voice and her platform to bring attention to issues of social justice. As an openly gay woman, she has been especially passionate about LGBTQ issues. But she was also important to the team’s success by securing equal pay with the men’s national team.
She backed her words with action: She faced retaliation for kneeling before two national team games in 2016 in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who knelt during the national anthem to call attention to injustice. racial.
She was among the athletes who signed an amicus brief in the lawsuit challenging an Idaho law that barred transgender athletes from participating in school sports.
She got into an argument with former President Trump on social media while he was in France for the 2019 World Cup. She proclaimed she would not go to the White House even if she was invited, and Trump responded on Twitter: “Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House or our flag, especially since so much has been done for her and the team.”
And after the recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, she was one of the most prominent athletes to denounce the decision to nullify the right to abortion.
This week, Rapinoe will be among a diverse group of 17 people, including gymnast Simone Biles and actor Denzel Washington, who will be honored with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Although Rapinoe is currently in Mexico with the team, he will leave briefly to attend the ceremony on Thursday in Washington DC.
“I just see this as a validation of all the things that I have stood for, not a validation for me, but it is a validation of LGBTQI-plus rights. It is validation of the Black Lives Matter movement and the movement against the white supremacist power structure that we have,” she said. “It’s a validation of women’s rights and equal pay and abortion rights and trans rights and everything that I and so many others worked so hard for.”
Rapinoe spoke to reporters shortly after receiving news of the award, expressing her hope that she had given others a roadmap for activism in their own lives.
“For whatever reason, I feel comfortable being front and center. I seem to like it a bit. So if I can help other people walk in that, step into their power, understand that you don’t have to be me to make a difference. You can make a difference in your family, in your community, in your school and in your workplace, whatever it is.
“I hope I was able to set a good example for adults and children alike that using your voice and standing up for what is right is never a bad thing.”
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