The President Honors the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team
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The President Honors the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team

November 4, 2019

Ayla Ludlow: My
name is Ayla Ludlow, and a few month ago I
decided to write a letter to the First Family after
watching the U.S. Women’s soccer team. This is what I wrote:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Obama, My name is Ayla Ludlow,
I am 13 years old. I live in Pennbrook,
Massachusetts. Today I was watching
Women’s World Cup, which I love so much, and
then my brother decides to come into the room
and say, “Ayla, boys are so much better
than girls at soccer.” (laughter) Whoever is
reading this should know that I hate the fact that
boys’ sports always get the most attention. I want to do
something about it. It makes me mad that people
do not treat girls equally. Plus, a lot of girls are
better at sports than boys. (applause) So all I am
saying is that I would like to do something about
it, and I need your help. Sincerely, Ayla
Ludlow, 13 years old. I never thought my note
would bring me here to the White House with the women
I was watching on TV. Having this opportunity to
stand before this group is simply amazing, and I’m
never going to forget this moment. And now, it is my honor to
introduce the President, Barack Obama. (applause) The President: Well, welcome to the White
House, everybody. And, Ayla, thank you
for that introduction. You did a great job. I know your dad is
incredibly proud of you. I don’t know where your
brother is right now. (laughter) But this is
some payback right here. (laughter) You just had
a national audience — (applause) — you just had
a national audience just letting him know
what’s what. Because a lot of
people agree with you, and nothing gives me more
hope than knowing that we’ve got a whole generation of
young women like Ayla ready to take the world by storm. Speaking of women who took
the world by storm — give it up for the World
Champion, the U.S. Women’s National
Soccer Team! (applause) Hey! I was really excited
about this today. I go to a lot of meetings — (laughter) — and most of them aren’t that interesting. And so to see this team that
sparked the imagination of people all across the
country and around the world is just wonderful. I want to recognize a lot
of people who made these incredibly talented women —
put them in a position to be able to showcase their
talent so effectively. First of all, U.S. Soccer President
Sunil Gulati. Please give him a big
round of applause. (applause) Your outstanding
coach, Jill Ellis. (applause) Coach Ellis, I
very much appreciate you allowing them to come to
the White House during your victory tour. They’ve been playing a lot
of “friendly” matches across the country — although by
the looks of the scores, they’re not that friendly. (laughter) These folks
are kind of competitive. Now, my first order of
business is to congratulate our newlywed, Sydney Leroux. Sydney. (applause) Yay! Is that the newlywed wave? Ms. Leroux:
Presidential wave. The President: Oh, it’s the
presidential wave, okay. So Syd got hitched
a couple weeks ago, and just about the
whole team showed up. I also hear that she’s got a Chihuahua with 10,000 Twitter followers — (laughter) — which makes me thankful that Bo and Sunny don’t have their own accounts, because I don’t need them trolling me from my own house. (laughter) But that’s an aside. It’s been a busy few
months for the team. Since winning the
World Cup in July, they’ve graced the covers of
magazines and video games, and apparently
even corn mazes. Now, this is a true story. A farmer in California built
a corn maze in the shape of Megan Rapinoe’s face. (laughter) I mean, I thought
I was cool a few years ago when somebody made a bust
out of me out of butter. But Megan has got
an entire cornfield. But these champions deserve
all the attention that they’ve been getting. After 16 long years,
too many heartbreaks, they flew north to put
America back on top of the soccer world. And they did it in style. It was a victory that
took all 23 players. It took Christie
Rampone’s leadership, Alex Morgan’s playmaking,
Heather O’Reilly’s game face. (laughter) It took Becky Sauerbrunn’s quiet dominance. And Abby Wambach’s not-so-quiet– (laughter) — dominance. Abby said that she wanted
her final World Cup to be like a fairytale. And I’m not sure she could
have written a better ending: a world
champion at last, draped in the
Stars and Stripes, showing us all how far we’ve
come — on and off the field — by sharing a celebratory
kiss with her wife. And of course, this victory
required Carli Lloyd. Now, Carli is no stranger
to clutch performances; scored game-winners in both
the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Gold Medal matches. So this year’s
final against Japan, she did it even better,
scoring three goals in the first 16 minutes. Now, I have to
say, first of all, I was explaining to the team
and Carli that I had gotten my popcorn, I was
all settling in. (laughter) I’m thinking
I’ve got a couple hours of tension and excitement
— and poof, it was gone. (laughter) It was over. And afterward, Carli was
asked if she ever thought that she would score three
goals in a World Cup Final. No, she said, “I dreamed
of scoring four.” (laughter) She does
have an attitude. You can just see it. (laughter and applause) She’s not lacking in confidence. (applause) Although I do
think that rocket from midfield, that’s
a two-pointer. (laughter) So it was
almost like four. And Carli’s performance was
so good that by the time the game was over, someone
had changed her title on Wikipedia from “Midfielder” to “President of the United States.” (laughter) Which, by the way, the job is about to open up. (laughter) What’s another
candidate in the mix? (laughter) I guarantee you
Carli knows more about being President than some of
the folks who are running. (laughter) But that’s a
whole other — (applause) — that’s a whole other
topic of conversation. Now, while Carli’s
performance put an exclamation point
on a historic run, this victory was about
more than just soccer. It was about dominance and
skill and about inspiring our whole country. About a month before the
World Cup kicked off, these players launched
#SheBelieves initiative, encouraging young fans
all across the country to believe in themselves. And whether it was through
the campaign — through that campaign or on the field,
they’ve inspired millions of girls to dream bigger,
and by the way, inspired millions of boys to
look at girls differently, which is just as important. (applause) Sasha had a
chance to go with one of her best friends, Maisy,
Joe’s granddaughter, to the game live. But others were following
it all across the country. There were girls like the
young player in Florida who told Sydney, “I
look like you. And I want to be
just like you.” Girls like Ayla who too
often heard that they weren’t somehow supposed
to be as good at sports as boys. And Ayla got mad, and she
should be mad with those attitudes. This team taught all
America’s children that “playing like a girl”
means you’re a badass. (laughter and applause) Perhaps I shouldn’t have used that phrase. (laughter) Playing like a
girl means being the best. It means drawing the largest
TV audience for a soccer match — men or women’s
— in American history. It means wearing our
nation’s crest on your jersey, taking yourself and
your country to the top of the world. That’s what
American women do. That’s what
American girls do. That’s why we
celebrate this team. They’ve done it with class. They’ve done it
with the right way. They’ve done it
with excitement. They’ve done with style. We are very, very
proud of them. So once again, on
behalf of all Americans, congratulations. We couldn’t be
prouder of you. Let’s go bring home
the gold in Rio. Thank you. (applause) Jill Ellis: So, on behalf of our team, and our staff we want you to try out. We figured you would be free. (laughter) But we would just like to say thank you so much for your support. It meant the world to us. The President: Thank you so much. Jill Ellis: Thank you. (applause) (applause)

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