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Play Like a Girl? It "Means You're a Badass"

13-year-old Ayla wrote to the First Family after watching the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team to discuss an issue she cared about—women in sports.

Every day, kids across the country write to the President and speak out on the causes that matter to them. One of the most rewarding aspects of running the Students' Correspondence Department is getting to interact with so many incredible young people. This summer, an outspoken thirteen-year-old girl wrote to the First Family after watching the United States Women’s National Soccer Team play on television to discuss one particular issue she cared about—women in sports.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Obama,

My name is Ayla and I am 13 years old. I live in Pembroke, Massachusetts. Today I was watching the Women's World Cup, which I love so much. And then my brother decides to come into the room and say, "Ayla, boys are so much better at soccer than girls." Whoever is reading this should know that I hate the fact that boys sports always get the most attention. I want to do something about it. It makes me mad that people do not treat girls equally. Plus, a lot of girls are better at sports than boys. So all I am saying is that I would like to do something about it. And I need your help.

Sincerely, Ayla (13 years old)

Ayla not only received an invitation to meet the World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s Soccer Team at the White House, but she was also asked to introduce the President before he congratulated the players on their victory. Prior to the ceremony, Ayla’s father said that she was honored to introduce the President and very eager to meet the same women she admired and watched on television.

Upon arriving to the White House, Ayla appeared excited and anxious to start the day’s events. In the State Dining Room, team members approached her to express their gratitude for her loyal support and their appreciation for the fervor demonstrated in her letter. A soccer player herself, Ayla found herself surrounded by strong and talented role models who exemplified the values and skills she so admires.

As Ayla read her letter aloud in front of an audience who joined to celebrate the accomplishments of some of our nation’s most impressive athletes, her staunch drive for change did not go unrecognized. From the President standing next to her to all the kids like her who tuned in to see the team being celebrated, Ayla’s determination to speak out on this issue sparked admiration and applause.

After the event, Ayla proudly flaunted the Team USA jersey she received as a flood of people congratulated her. One young girl approached Ayla with her soccer ball and asked, “Can you sign this for me?” As she signed the ball, it was clear Ayla’s boldness inspired everyone around her. And as the President said in agreement, “We’ve got a whole generation of young women like Ayla ready to take the world by storm.”



Play like a girl? It "means you're a badass." Just ask Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, and President Obama.

Posted by The White House on Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Mandy Fatemi is a Senior Analyst and Project Manager in the Office of Presidential Correspondence.