FOOTBALL STARS MIA HAMM, ABBY WAMBACH, JULIE FOUDY AND TISHA VENTURINI-HOCH PERFORM WITH LYDIA KO AND MARINA ALEX AT PALOS VERDES PRO-AM
PALOS VERDES ESTATE, CALIFORNIA | Golf is normally a silent sport, but Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Julie Foudy and Tisha Venturini-Hoch could be heard screaming and clapping like a real football player through the Palos Verdes Golf Club as they ‘they joined Lydia Ko and Marina Alex in the Wednesday pro-am.
The four legends who keep in touch used to play golf during their football days when they had more free time without children. Foudy, two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, said: “We don’t play golf anymore. I’ve played golf once in the last seven years.”
Abby Wambach, who held the men’s and women’s international goalscoring record until 2020, said: “I’m grateful that Lydia Ko is part of our team. There’s nothing like playing in a scramble format . It’s just fun to be here with old teammates and being able to hack it.”
“I love watching Lydia play,” said Mia Hamm, the former face of the Women’s United Soccer Association and all-time assists leader for the United States Women’s National Team. Foudy added, “I also love the Korda sisters, Nelly and Jessica.”
Hamm now lives in Manhattan Beach and regularly plays golf at Rolling Hills Country Club. The rest of the Olympians were a bit rusty but had fun reminiscing about their football career.
The best part of being a female athlete, according to Wambach, is being part of a winning team surrounded by amazing people. “That’s the thing I’m most proud of. Obviously, scoring goals was fun. Winning championships is also fun, but doing it with your friends is what matters. The goal that changed my life was against Brazil late in the 2011 World Cup game. I also scored a goal in 2004 to send those ladies off with a gold medal, so that was a big deal.”
While Tisha Venturini-Hoch, 1996 Atlanta Olympics gold medalist and 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup world champion, still plays 6-on-6 football matches for fun, Hamm, Wambach and Foudy rarely think about playing.
“It takes a lot for me to miss it. Nice pitch and lots of fans with a crazy crowd,” Foudy said.
Wambach said: “When I was unfit I was a mediocre football player so I’m terrible every time I try to play football (now). It’s not even fun.”
Unlike high-intensity sports like soccer, golf is one of the few sports you can play at any age and practice for decades.
The four legends joked about sore shoulders, hips and ankles after years of kicking soccer balls as they roamed the Palos Verdes Golf Club. But, Abby said, “Mia Hamm has a very low handicap, so I aspire to be like her, like I’ve been, my whole career.”
A lot has changed since the four of them dominated global football arenas and brought more attention to women’s sports. In February, the United States Soccer Federation won a $24 million lawsuit over unequal pay for American women’s soccer stars.
Wambach said: “I think earning respect has always been and will be one of the biggest challenges in women’s sports. At the start of my career, Mia was always part of the team, and it was really amazing to see the fandom and popularity of football.Then as my career progressed it became more and more popular compared to what we see today.
Women’s sports and wages are rising as the NWSL raised the minimum wage to $35,000 this year, and the LPGA sees the highest overall price to date.
“I think the NWSL is a really interesting data point to be able to see where it is in 10 years, and I also know there’s still so much opportunity. When you look at the landscape of professional sports, the sport Women’s has so much more potential for growth than men’s sports,” said Abby.
She added: “I still think there is so much more growth, not only in terms of compensation, but also in terms of treatment, viewership, media opportunities and sponsorship. There is still a long way to go. .”