By Scott Wyant, VCU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
RICHMOND, Va. – VCU Co-Head Coach Tim Sahaydak describes the 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup Championship team as a group "that spread the gospel of women's soccer."
This past week Co-Head Coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, a member of that 1999 squad, traveled to France in an effort to continue spreading the word. She was invited to speak on behalf of Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports, a program established by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"It's something I've been doing ever since I started on the national team, even as a player," Roberts Sahaydak said about her role in spreading the game. "I feel really fortunate that I can continue to travel around the world and do the same thing but just in a different format."
The trip was centered around the high school world championships taking place in Bordeaux all weekend. Over the two days Roberts Sahaydak was in France, she spent time touring throughout the city speaking in classrooms, putting on clinics and participating in panel discussions.
Much of her time was spent with underprivileged students with the goal of showing how athletics can instill important values in a girl's life.
VCU's co-head coach spent her time working for the U.S. State Department in an effort to expand girls participation in sports throughout the world. Roberts Sahaydak's trip to France was to emphasize the game of women's soccer in a country with such a rich passion for the game on the men's side.
On the women's side, the sport is still developing, battling the idea that soccer is a male-only sport. In recent years, the French Women's National Team has improved drastically placing fourth at both the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Olympic Games.
"I want to inspire girls to have a goal, and if it is that they really love soccer, and even though it's not completely supported in France, to inspire them to get after it anyway," Roberts Sahaydak said.
Even though Roberts Sahaydak is set to help others, she still sees these trips just as beneficial to her perspective of the game.
"I always learn so much from these trips and hopefully I'm doing the same for them," said Roberts Sahaydak. "Soccer is such a universal sport and it brings everyone together. It just confirms to me that it doesn't matter where you go, there are a lot of girls out there that want to play."
Roberts Sahaydak has been working alongside the U.S. State Department since 2008 traveling to various countries throughout the world, including Thailand and China. She has also worked closely with the United States Soccer Federation, including spending this past February as a coach for the U-18 and U-20 women's national team training camps.