Soccer legend Mia Hamm helps with Lay's Replay initiative to build a new pitch out of chip bags
Two-time World Cup champion (USA) and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Mia Hamm is considered one of the great soccer players of all-time. but well before she retired in 2004, the National Soccer Hall of Famer was already giving back to underserved communities.
Earlier this week, Hamm, who is an ambassador for UEFA Foundation for Children, partnered with the Lay's Replay Field initiative in Santa Ana, California for a special event. The primarily hispanic community of Santa Anna was one of the hardest impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, both on a health and economic level.
On April 19, that community was given a brand new soccer pitch made from reused chip bags and packaging. That's the first time Lay's Replay has come to the United States to build a pitch. The Lay’s Replay program started in 2021, The new field marks the sixth to open around the world, with others in South Africa, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Mexico, which have been utilized over 25,000 times to provide underserved communities with access to the beloved sport and state-of-the-art soccer fields since the program's launch.
Hamm joined SportsJam with Doug Doyle to talk about why she had to be there for the celebration.
"This is the world's game. Soccer is the world's game. We have an opportunity to give back and create these fields in underserved communities all across the world. It's giving young boys and girls in the community a safe place to go, to play, to connect, and also I think, to gain confidence and learn more about themselves. I know the impact the game has had on my life. I'm hoping this can kind of touch this community in the same way."
The field, located at Cesar Chavez Campesino Park in Santa Ana was selected by Lay's® and Lay's RePlay global partners UEFA Foundation for Children and Common Goal for its rich Hispanic heritage with the goal of providing affordable access to soccer programming and education.
The Santa Ana field opens in partnership with the City of Santa Ana and Pure Game, a local non-profit that teaches children life skills through mentorship and sports-based character education.
Hamm stresses her philanthropic spirit came from her parents.
"Ever since I was younger, we were volunteering or people were staying at our house. I think all of us are in a position where we need help and it's part of our humanity to kind of give back, lend a hand and help people out."
The Mia Hamm Foundation was created in 1999, and is an American nonprofit organization that seeks to promote awareness and raise funds for families in need of a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. It is also dedicated to the development of more opportunities for young women to participate in sports.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup will take place in Australia and New Zealand starting on July 20. The U.S. National team is still the favorite and looking for a three-peat in the tournament, but Hamm admits they will be challenged this time around. She says the fact that other countries are closing the gap on the American team is actually exciting.
"That means more confederations, more associations are investing in their women's programs. It means that money is getting where it needs to be and needs to go. But, I think you have a handful of teams that can win this thing. From Spain to England, you have to put Brazil in there. Australia just had an amazing result against England. There's also the U.S. obviously and Germany. It's going to be a hard-fought tournament. What you see going into it is making sure teams are played in but also healthy."
Hamm became a soccer icon, playing forward for the United States women's national soccer team from 1987 to 2004. She held the record for most international goals scored until 2013.
Born in Selma, Alabama, she was the fourth of six children of Bill and Stephanie Hamm. Hamm spent her childhood on various United States Air Force bases around the world with her family.
Today, Mia resides in Southern California, where, along with her husband and former Boston Red Sox star Nomar Garciaparra, she raises her twin daughters Ava and Grace and her son Garrett. Nomar currently works as an analyst with SportsNet LA.
You can SEE my entire SportsJam interview with Mia Hamm here.