Sonia Bien-Aime and Christen Press Recognized as March S’Hero Award Recipients
RICHMOND, Va. (March 31, 2015) – The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) today announced Sonia Bien-Aime and Christen Press as the March S’Hero of the Month award recipients for individual and community leadership. As part of Amazing Young WomenTM and the #BeautifulAmbition campaign, the ECNL is sharing the stories of these S’Heroes who are role models for our nation’s young female athletes who are balancing their drive to become elite athletes with the pressures of fitting in with social peers.
S’HERO OF THE MONTH – SONIA BIEN-AIME
Sonia Bien-Aime is the current President of the Turks & Caicos Islands Football Association (TCIFA) and serves on the Executive Committee for both CONCACAF and FIFA. She is a true advocate for women’s soccer with a passion to contribute to the development and organization of the sport.
Sonia began her prestigious career as a multi-sport athlete for Turks & Caicos, representing her country in track & field, softball, and football, where she captained the Turks & Caicos Women’s National Team. She grew up on the island of Grand Turk alongside her four sisters and one brother. Sonia values family first, and credits the love and support she received to her long list of achievements.
In 2006, after working in the legal field for fourteen years, Sonia’s life changed course. With a burning passion and desire to contribute back to the game to which she loved, she began her distinguished career as an administrator and trustee of football when she became a member of the TCIFA Executive Committee and elected General Secretary. While serving as General Secretary, Sonia’s desire for extending the reach and movement of the game became infectious.
Shortly there after, she was named Chairperson for the first TCIFA Women’s Football Committee. However, her commitment to the sport and drive to make change quickly spread beyond Turks & Caicos. Her impact became global. She became a member of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Executive Committee, Chairperson for the CFU Women’s Football Committee, FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup Planning Committee Member, among many others.
The advances Sonia made in sports within the Caribbean led to her most recent accomplishment. In May of 2013, Sonia was elected to the highest governing body in football, FIFA Executive Committee, and is one of the first women to serve.
“Changing the landscape of women’s football in my region and the world is my mission,” said Bien-Aime. “I am truly honored to be a part of one of the most powerful governing bodies in the sport. I embrace the opportunity given to me, and will do everything within my power to make a positive change.”
It was the knocks Bien-Aime took on the field as a centerback and midfielder that that instilled the persistence and dedication needed to make from the tiny island of Grand Turk to the highest chamber of FIFA.
Sonia is fearless and immersed in the movement of the women’s game, paving the way for others to have a voice. She is a true believer in growing the game and making improvements to eliminate the restrictions of women, and ultimately leveling the playing field for all. Sonia’s quest to serve as an advocate to make a difference on the sport she loves, and her courage to speak on behalf of others, defines what it means to be an Amazing Young Woman.
To learn more about Sonia Bien-Aime, click here.
S’HERO COMMUNITY LEADER OF THE MONTH – CHRISTEN PRESS
Christen Press is a professional soccer player for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and current member of the U.S. Women’s National Team. She gives back to the soccer community in her spare time in the role of athlete ambassador for Grassroots Soccer, a charitable organization founded in 2002.
Christen grew up in Southern California, beginning her decorated soccer career at the age of five. She played youth club soccer for Slammers FC, a Current ECNL Member Club, leading them to a national championship and earning the golden boot award.
After a prosperous youth career she went on to play collegiately at Stanford University, where she is currently ranks as the All-Time Leader in goals (71), assists (41), and points (183). Christen was the 2010 Herman Trophy Winner, Pac-10 Player of the Year, Pac-10 Scholar Athlete of the Year, and NSCAA All-American, among other honors.
In 2011, Christen was drafted as the fourth overall pick in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) to the Washington Spirit (renamed magicJack when relocated). In 2012, the WPS suspended operations and Christen signed with Kopparbergs/Goteborg FC in Sweden. After one year she inked a contract with Tyreso FF, the top team in the Swedish Damallsvenskan league, where she continued her successes.
The Chicago Red Stars signed Christen in 2014 where she went on to be the teams’ leading scorer in her first season, and has earned her way into the U.S. Women’s National Team on a full-time basis. She is making a statement as a versatile and dangerous attacker for the USWNT as they prepare for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
In was in 2014, when she moved back to the U.S., Christen became involved with Grassroots Soccer. Grassroots uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize in the fight to stop the spread of HIV. Her role as athlete ambassador allows her to work specifically with the all girls programs.
The mission of Grassroots and the motto Christen lives by when representing the organization is to simply, “use soccer for the good”. The ability to help those that are determined to make a change in their lives is a reward in itself. Teaching others how to stay happy and healthy through the sport she loves is what forges the partnership between her and Grassroots Soccer.
“It has always been important to me, as a professional athlete, to do what I can to help people,” said Press. “The biggest value I find in the entertainment industry is the power to affect change and spread good in the world.”
Christen recognizes that as a professional athlete, she has the ability to influence and instill positive change in the world. Her courage and willingness to raise awareness for much needed organizations, such as Grassroots Soccer, and her ability to balance this passion with the rigors of being an elite athlete illustrates what it means to be an Amazing Young Women.
To learn more about Grassroots Soccer and Christen’s role click here.
S’Hero Awards is part of the Amazing Young WomenTM campaign designed to showcase strong, successful women who embody the leadership ideals first learned and developed on the soccer fields of their youth. Through the awards, the ECNL is sharing stories, unifying women of all ages, and celebrating today’s young women as they prepare to become tomorrow’s leaders. The ECNL is calling on all who love sports to join them in supporting youth female athletes as they recognize their own potential, define their individual paths to success, and prepare to be our next generation of leaders by visiting www.AmazingYoungWomen.com and using the hashtag#BeautifulAmbition.
Studies have shown that driving factors behind girls dropping out of sports include social stigma and limited exposure to the inspirational journeys trail blazed by positive role models. Too often player traits that are so valued by teams are not promoted as “beautiful” traits for young girls. By age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys. Amazing Young Women encourages young female athletes to embrace their ambitious, driven and competitive nature. And those recognized asS’Heroes have taken a spirit of leadership and inspiration from the field, and have demonstrated that it’s not just about a phase of your life, but a way of life.
About Amazing Young WomenTM: Launched by the ECNL, the Amazing Young Women campaign is a dynamic platform of online and local market activations that showcase and celebrate female role models offering an aspirational focus for all female athletes and teens as they prepare to be our next generation of leaders. Throughout the 2014-2015 season, the ECNL will showcase what it means to have #BeautifulAmbition as exemplified by former and current ECNL players, and is calling on all of the nation’s women to join the movement to celebrate the endless potential of today’s girls.
Women of all ages can share their personal moments of #BeautifulAmbition through social media and at www.AmazingYoungWomen.com. Every share and submission helps drive a movement that celebrates the power of what it is to be a girl today. Each month Amazing Young Women of the ECNL will be chosen from online submissions and social engagement to be showcased at AmazingYoungWomen.com. Through testimonials, tips and tools, the website is providing all girls to view, share, and celebrate what it is to be motivated, strong, and successful.
About Elite Clubs National League: The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) was founded in 2009 to enhance the developmental experience of female youth soccer players in the United States through: (i) Improving the competitive environment through creation of a true national competitive league; (ii) Improving the process for identifying elite female soccer players for the U.S. Soccer youth national teams through a systematic scouting and identification program based on national competitions; and (iii) improving the daily training environment at top female youth soccer clubs through developing best practices and training and organizational guidelines for its member clubs. The ECNL is sanctioned by US Club Soccer and is sponsored by Nike Soccer.
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