On July 7, Alyssa Farrell, 24, a nursing student from Wantagh, will join at least 8,000 other soccer fans worldwide who have pledged to kick a ball in a socially distanced, virtual soccer game spearheaded by three other Long Islanders called Sell Out The Stadium.
At the Point O’Woods Day Camp on Fire Island, Nicholas Perillo, 28, the sports field director, will lead campers in an hour of soccer drills as part of the event. And Ali Kucera, 28, of Smithtown, will meet one of the event founders, Shannon Fay, 27, at Fay’s parents’ house in Sayville. “We’re going to kick around for about an hour,” Kucera says. “It’s such a good idea.”
Fay is one of a trio of women who run a venture called SoccerGrlProbs, short for Soccer Girl Problems; the others are Carly Bayer, 28, and Alanna Locast, 30. “When coronavirus happened, it canceled a lot of girls’ seasons,” Locast says. “A lot of girls are feeling lost without their team, without sports.”
She says Sell Out The Stadium, which asks people to commit to doing socially distant drills or family games in their backyards sometime between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on July 7, “is our way of getting everybody outside and remembering the sport that brings them so much happiness.” They want participants to log on to Instagram, TikTok and other social media platforms and post photos of themselves with the hashtag #selloutthestadium.
AIMING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
SoccerGrlsProbs was launched in 2011, after the three Long Islanders met as college soccer teammates at Fairfield University in Connecticut. They started tweeting funny laments and posting humorous YouTube videos about being a female soccer player with the hashtag #soccergrlprobs. That grew to a professional business aimed at empowering girls and women ages 12 to 24; the women have 325,000 Instagram followers and 54 million minutes viewed on their YouTube channel.
SoccerGrlProbs now includes a new book coming out Aug. 4 called “The Ladyballer’s Guide to Life,” with a forward written by renowned women’s soccer great Brandi Chastain, a weekly sports podcast hosted by the women, online fitness courses, summer soccer camps and the sale of products and T-shirts with sayings such as, “I Can’t, I Have Soccer.”
Ideally, they would Sell Out The Stadium to raise $20,000 to be donated to charity and have 59,700 participants. They chose July 7 because that’s the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Women’s National Team winning the World Cup in France last year, and they pegged a lofty goal of 59,700 participants because that’s how many seats were in the stadium that day. More than 8,000 have signed up so far, with 500 of the registrants from Long Island, Bayer says.
Signing up at selloutthestadium.com is free, but if people choose to make a donation, they will receive exclusive Nike Dri-Fit merchandise in exchange, Bayer says. So far, the effort has raised $10,000 that will be donated to Black Lives Matter Global Network, No Kid Hungry, Women’s Sports Foundation and To Write Love On Her Arms, a nonprofit that helps people struggling with addiction, depression and thoughts of suicide, the women say.
Alyssa Francese, a member of the Stony Brook University women’s soccer team, says she’s trying to organize as many of the 31 members as possible to do their hour together. “I’m trying to make it as big a thing as we can on our team,” says Francese. “I think it definitely will be fun.” While Francese, 21, a rising senior, lives in Westchester, she says other teammates are from other countries including Norway, Germany and Trinidad and Tobago.
Farrell says she will meet up with three friends she works out with to play at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford. She says she donated $30 and will receive a Sell Out the Stadium T-shirt. “We are just planning on shooting, keeping enough distance between us,” she says. “It’s a good way to get people together who have one common love and interest.”