This Saturday at the Maryland SoccerPlex, a group of the United States’ most well-known, gold-medal-winning women’s soccer players will take the field for another reason -- charity.
Players including U.S. Women’s National Team members Becky Sauerbrunn and Lori Lindsey will compete in the Celebration of Women’s Soccer Charity Match on the field that used to be used by their former team, the Washington Freedom of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) that Washo owned.
Washo, a former DC SCORES board member, is graciously donating a portion of the proceeds to our organization. Another portion will be donated to Washo’s “Art from the Heart Foundation” in honor of Washo’s father, Michael.
Buy your tickets today for this special event.
This week, Washo took some time to answer questions about Saturday’s charity game.
Where did the idea for the tournament come from?
I’ve had an idea of some type of Tribute match or “farewell” match since the Freedom first got sold to magicJack over two seasons ago. I always wanted to tie such an event to a local charity or charities and use the fan support of women’s soccer to also support a worthy cause. I approached the magicJack owner with this idea (he expressed zeo interest), U.S. Soccer and other WPS teams the past two years and the game concept never came together.
Therefore, with the excitement of the Olympics this year, I decided to try and pull the game together one last time by myself thinking the biggest challenge would be trying to pull all of the former players’ schedules together. About two months ago, almost one by one, I started getting a lot of positive responses from many of the players for a late August game and this combined with the timing of the August Cup. Plus, the excitement of David Jones, owner of the Maryland Capitols, decided to finally push forward with this event.
What have been players' reactions to hearing about the event and signing up for it?
By far, the players’ reaction and support of this event has been truly remarkable. I’ve always known the former Freedom players were all of high standards and special character individuals. However, their support of this event idea has been way greater than I expected. Even players who are unable to attend offered to help in any way possible to support the event, and were genuinely disappointed when they realized they couldn’t play.
Lisa DeVanna from Australia wanted to play, Sawa from Japan, Lene Myklyand, and Erin McLeod, GK from Canada - they all responded to my email outreach and were disappointed. U.S. players Alex Krieger and Abby Wambach as well, I heard from all of them. Plus , the players who are attending - they have all been extremely responsive and excited. I’m excited I’ve been able to pull this together and bring them all together.
How excited are you for the event and for raising money for the charities?
I’m extremely excited to be able to raise money and have net proceeds from the event go to support DC SCORES. I’ve been involved with DC SCORES since my early MLS days while working with D.C. United. I’ve also been on the board of both (America SCORES) Chicago and DC SCORES, therefore DC SCORES has always been a charity worthy of support for me. I believe DC SCORES is doing great work serving the underprivileged youth in D.C., and have created a unique program using the popularity of soccer and power of poetry to impact young at-risk kids.
Unfortunately, part of the proceeds will also be diverted to another new foundation that I wish wasn’t in existence. I am also trying to raise money, but more importantly awareness for a new foundation founded in memory of my Dad - Michael Washo’s “Art from the Heart Foundation.” My father unexpectedly passed away this past March at age 66. He suffered a heart attack in the early stages of battling a cancer diagnosis only five weeks into treatments. In our view, our Dad was never properly warned of the dangers of exposing his heart to chemo and radiation treatments, nor did the medical professionals properly monitor his heart during his treatments. Therefore, our efforts will be geared toward raising awareness and education of the dangers to the heart for those fighting cancer in hope that other people don’t suffer the same fate as our father.
Follow Mark Washo on Twitter at @SoccerWasho