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Youth soccer organization launches gay-lesbian Web page

January 08, 2014|By Kevin Baxter

In a groundbreaking effort to curtail bullying and harassment and make the group more inclusive, the National Soccer Coaches Assn. of America has added a "Gay, Lesbian and Ally" page to its website.

"We have to make it clear the association stands for the acceptance of everyone," the group's president, Jack Huckel, told Soccer America magazine.

Huckel said reports of hazing were part of the impetus to launch the page, along with the organization's mission to improve coaching.

"If a kid is dealing with any issues that prevent him from focusing, he's not going to be as good a player as he could be," Dan Woog, who heads the association's LGBTQ committee, told Soccer America. "He's not going to be able to contribute what he could and that impacts the entire team."

The Web page offers links to LGBT blogs, offers confidential and anonymous services, access to programs and a list of frequently asked questions aimed at coaches and players.

"The point is not to have kids come out before they're ready," Woog said. "The kid wants to be on the soccer field. He looks up to his coach. The time he puts in is really important to him. So coaches need tools -- what they say, what they don't say, the words they use, the examples they use -- to create an atmosphere where all kids feel comfortable to achieve to their potential."

At its highest level, soccer in the U.S. has been the most accepting major sport when it comes to gay and lesbian athletes.

Midfielder Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay athlete to play in a major professional U.S. sports league when he took the field for the Galaxy last May.

The top-ranked U.S. women's national team has two lesbian stars in midfielder Megan Rapinoe and forward Abby Wambach, the leading scoring in the history of women's soccer.


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