Abby Wambach (right) talks with Alex Morgan (left) during the USA's 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Round of 16 match against Colombia at Commonwealth Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
MIAMI – Although the annual CONCACAF Awards honor women and men for their on-the-field footballing achievements, two past winners assert that the accolades are more about others rather than themselves.
Voting for the 2015 version continues through Monday and you may want to read what the superstars say before you make your selections.
United States women’s national team standout Abby Wambach retired at the end of 2015 with a world-record 184 goals, the most by any woman or man. After helping the Americans to a third CONCACAF Women’s Championship crown by scoring a tournament-best seven goals, the 255-time capped forward was named the CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year for 2014.
Wambach, who captured her only FIFA Women’s World Cup title last year, prefers to view the CONCACAF Awards’ significance through the focus of a larger lens.
“Individual awards are really a reflection of the team, and I know that’s the case for all the awards I’ve won,” she told CONCACAF.com. “That said, it’s always nice to be recognized for your achievements, especially in your home region where women’s soccer has continued to grow, and we look forward to seeing CONCACAF’s continued efforts to promote the women’s game at all levels.”
By recognizing the best women players, coaches and referees in football, we also acknowledge the contributions that they make to the overall health of the sport. As the size of the tent increases, so does football’s ability to impact lives in a genuine way.
It is thanks to the talent and enthusiasm of players like Wambach that young girls across the globe realize they have a place in football. Despite the fact that the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year will no longer shoot a ball competitively, her future contributions away from the field promise to be just as on target.
One competitor with a long career still ahead of her is Wambach’s former teammate, Alex Morgan.
The Orlando Pride forward’s knack of connecting with people and desire to make a difference provides her with a platform to advocate for the continued growth of women’s football. Morgan won the first-ever CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year in 2013 and believes that it is crucial for the Confederation to show all youth players what they can truly achieve.
“It’s important for the many young girls playing soccer in the CONCACAF region to have role models to show them what is possible in this game,” said the 26-year-old. “The CONCACAF Awards are a part of this and we hope that the young kids across the region, especially in countries where they may not have the same opportunities as we do, keep striving to achieve their goals and dreams and maybe one day they may be recognized by CONCACAF for their efforts as well.”
A sense of responsibility to the game and a belief in others call attention to the reasons why Wambach and Morgan are outstanding performers and, more importantly, tremendous people.
When you place a vote for your 2015 CONCACAF Awards choices, you are also playing a role in expanding our great game. That’s something for which Wambach, Morgan and millions throughout the region would gratefully cheer.