Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 26th 2016 Contents A49
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NEW YORK---Brandi Chastain is confident
the US women s soccer team can win the
gold medal again in Rio, is advocating for
fewer headers in youth games and dealing
with her son s diagnosis of Crohn s dis-
It s been 17 years since Chastain s winning
kick in a penalty shootout against China in
the Women s World Cup at the Rose Bowl,
and the celebratory photo of her overhead
jersey twirl landed on magazine covers.
These days, she s coaching youth, high
school and college soccer in California.
Chastain is keeping an eye on the current
women s national team---without retired
star Abby Wambach---after helping the US
win two golds and a silver in the Olympics
during her career.
"We have a very deep roster, a nice balance
of young players and veterans," she said.
"Those two components have always proved
Chastain, who transitioned from forward
to defense on the US national team, calls
it "humbling" to be selected for induction
into the Soccer Hall of Fame later this year
at its new location at FC Dallas stadium.
Here are a few things to know about
Chastain, who plans to donate her brain for
SAFER SOCCER: Some think less heading
in youth soccer games will lower the risk
of concussions. Chastain works with the
Safer Soccer initiative, which advocates for
fewer headers. Since US Soccer approved
no headers for children under 11 last year,
the whistle is blown for a foul if the ball is
headed in a game. Chastain would like the
ban to extend to 14 and under, but for now,
it s about reducing headers in practice and
"teaching kids spacial awareness, getting
their head up and away from the ball. When
the kids get fixated on the ball, their eyes
never leave it, so they don t see any danger
that potentially could be coming."
Brandi Chastain: On headers, concussions, wages
She tells her boys youth team they re not quite
ready for headers and cautions her boys high school
Bellarmine team. At the youth level, she says it s best
to avoid them.
"I hope US Soccer educates refs on the rules, so
it s implemented at all levels and (teach) coaches
about how to coach awareness skills for kids to protect
She s also a volunteer assistant coach at her alma
mater, Santa Clara University, helping her husband
Jerry Smith, who has been the head coach for 30
BELL RUNG: Chastain s experienced her share of
concussions during a 24-year career spanning college,
national teams and pro soccer. The 48-year-old says
she s donating her brain to the Concussion Legacy
Foundation because she "won t need it at the time"
and "might as do some good with it." Chastain wants
to "leave soccer in a better place" and "if they can
get some information out of looking at my brain,
then I m happy to contribute."
CROHN'S CHALLENGE: Chastain s ten-year-old
son Jaden was recently diagnosed with Crohn s disease,
which causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal
tract. Symptoms of the disease that affects about
700,000 people in the US include cramping, diarrhea
and fatigue. The cause isn t exactly known, but
doctors think it s a combination of genetics, an over-
reactive immune system and environmental factors.
Jaden, who plays soccer, baseball and swims, has a
supportive school and a treatment plan to manage
NEW ATTITUDE: Chastain acknowledges that help-
ing her son deal with the emotional and social impact
of the disease initially weren t her strengths.
"As a pro athlete, my philosophy was you kind of
grind it out," she said. "Sometimes you won t feel
good and you still have to do the work. I had to take
a step back and know I m not always in control, and
Jaden will take the lead. He knows when he needs
to rest or can t play. That was a great lesson for me."
SOCCER EQUITY: She s been watching the efforts
by the US women s team to receive better wages and
benefits from US Soccer.
Chastain says a lack of money is "absolutely not
the reason" the federation offers different pay scales
for the US men s and women s teams. It s more about
distribution, given the money the federation receives
from TV revenue, sponsorships and Fifa.
FILE---In this July 10, 1999, file photo, United States'
Brandi Chastain celebrates after kicking the game-
winning overtime penalty shootout goal against China
during the Women's World Cup final at the Rose Bowl in
Pasadena, California Chastain likes the US soccer
prospects for defending gold in Rio, is advocating for
fewer headers in youth games and tackling her son's
diagnosis of Crohn's disease. AP PHOTO
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