U.S Women’s National Team Coach, Jill Ellis accompanied by goalkeeper Ashyln Harris visited the Monrovia Football Academy (MFA) from November 29- December 2, 2016 as sport envoys sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and other divisions of the Department of State devoted to sports diplomacy.
During their visit, Jill and Ashlyn contributed to the training sessions with the student athletes. Goalkeeper Harris carried out training sessions for two MFA student coaches. They also contributed to the academic classes and spoke at several U.S Embassy-sponsored events on leadership and women’s empowerment, according to the MFA.
Not only was the visitation of the two female icons inspirational, but the story of Coach Ellis was also motivational, especially to the female athletes.
According to the MFA, Coach Ellis grew up in Portsmouth, UK, in the 1970s, and was not allowed to play football simply because she was a girl. It was not until at age 15 that things changed, and Jill embarked on a journey that brought her to the height of world football.
She is the head coach of the United States women’s National Soccer Team and a development director of the United States Soccer Federation. She oversees the US national youth team development program. In 2015, the United States Women’s National Football Team won the World Cup Championship under her leadership.
Jill was also recently named MFA Ambassador, along with some international female icons, including, Hana Tunis, Executive Director of a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower, educate and energize girls in Liberia and around the globe, and Angela Hucles who won two Olympic gold medals for the US – soccer, two World Cup bronze medals and winner of US Soccer Foundation’s 2009 Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Most importantly, the visitation of Jill and Elis also assisted the MFA to raise an amount of US$25,000 during the “#GivingTuesday” week that will be directed to the academy’s future home.
Giving Tuesday, often stylized as #GivingTuesday refers to the Tuesday after U.S. Thanksgiving Day celebration in the United States.
According to MFA’s Director William Smith, up to the departure of Jill and Ellis, the academy was able to raise 70% of the $25,000 ($17,500).
Assisting the MFA in raising such amount has a great impact on the academy as it continues to provide soccer and academic education to young student athletes that could become the next George Weahs or Ellen Johnson Sirleafs as stated by President Sirleaf.