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Felicity Ruggerio, U.S Soccer Mom

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


"Please can you just take that phone off the hook?" was a familiar plea from Mr Ruggerio around player registration time. For his wife, Felicity, it was simply not an option, for it was an essential part of her work as the ultimate 'soccer mom.' We spoke to Felicity, of Bethany County, West Virginia, USA, about how she became a soccer mom and why it's important to her, and the neighbourhood youth.
"I first got into this over 16 years ago because there was a guy here in Bethany who ran two teams and my son played for one of them. Then he got offered a job in another area and they needed someone to take over booking the pitches, the referees and register and organise the players. I suddenly found myself taking over to help my son. By the time I retired we had built up to 14 teams. That's why my husband would complain about the phone!"
As a dedicated soccer mom Felicity soon found she had time for little else. "It's a huge time commitment. I was spending a lot of time supporting my son and then when I took over, well."
The youth soccer program in the States is done outside the schools for the most part. As Felicity explained "Maybe by the time they reach Junior High, or Senior High, the school might offer a soccer program. But the little leagues here, like in Baseball, are supported by the fathers right off the get go. But not many people are familiar with soccer so you might just get one person setting it up and then you need more to support the team, get the teams to the games, and raise money to buy their uniforms. With the men supporting the baseball and football, that's where the soccer mom comes in."
The kids can start in recreational soccer teams from as young as four or five, though as Felicity point out, it's pretty basic stuff at that age "this is a soccer ball. This is how you kick it."
Then as they get older things get more sophisticated, and can enter travel teams. "The game is great because it's so inclusive. It's for boys and girls and here we play co-ed (boys and girls in the same team) until they are 14. At this stage they may play at their high school but more than likely will be in a travel team. This is when things get more expensive, with motel costs, gasoline, more expensive gear, and you have to do a little more than a few good candy sales (a common way for raising money to fund the game) and registration fees." But this is all part of the hard work of the soccer mom.
But why does Felicity do it?
"I absolutely love to watch the game," says Felicity. "It's great to watch the kids progressing, to see their self esteem grow from the beginning of the season through to the end of season, it really can make a massive difference. Like watching completely different teams."
"I also love the way it's so inclusive. In little league Baseball, for example, you put the weak kids out in right field, because the ball never goes out there. In soccer you're always part of the action, you are always moving and I think that's part of the initial attraction for kids. Everyone's doing something. And that's great for us parents."
So it all seems worthwhile. And though Felicity speaks with great pride of the work she has done in Bethany for youth soccer, she is not so proud of the term 'soccer mom' itself. "I don't like the term 'soccer mom'. It's been kind of appropriated here and has political connotations. It's now become a generic term to describe suburban housewives. A conservative radio chat show host uses it all the time and it has seemed to take on a slightly derogatory feel. I'd rather just think of it as someone who has a child playing soccer."
Women's soccer is the fastest growing sport in the USA and this is an extra incentive for the girls to play. "My dream is to see my daughter play College football, and she has a chance too. And who knows, may even become the next Mia Hamm, who is a hero for all the young female players here."



Jon Wilkinson, July 2002


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