Lyndelle T. Phillips On The Impact of the W-League Ceasing Operations
Over the past two decades, Lyndelle Phillips has been involved in soccer and the women’s game at every imaginable level. Currently serving as a trustee on the Board of the Eastern New York State Adult Soccer Association; League Commissioner of the New York Metropolitan Women’s Soccer League; team manager of the New York Magic Reserve team and a consummate ‘troubleshooter’ for all things related to women’s soccer in the New York State metro area.
Phillips also served as a past President of the local women’s soccer league, where she held various officer positions and was inducted into the W-League and Eastern New York State Soccer Associations Hall of Fame.
Our U.S. Women’s National Team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup a few months ago. Clearly, America is the place to come to if you want to play the best women’s soccer on the planet.
In July 2015, the U.S. Women’s National Team won the Women’s World Cup and, by November 2015, the longest-operating U.S. women’s national amateur league, the W-League, with pro-standards and amateur players, had ‘ceased operations’.
The W-League’s New York Magic was the longest operating original franchise in the history of the ‘storied’ W-League. Lyndelle T. Phillips, is the co-owner, often times manager and defacto President of the New York Magic.
Phillips speaks out on the impact of the W-league ceasing operations and what needs to be done for women’s soccer in America.
“I recently received several telephone calls and communications from female international soccer players requesting to come to the USA to gain international playing experience,” says Lyndelle T. Phillips.
According to Phillips, the female players inquired about playing opportunities in the U.S., essentially saying, “We play with FC Barcelona and Espanyol Women’s Soccer Teams in Spain but since the Americans won the World Cup — we think the best soccer is played in the United States. We want to come to New York – to America – to play soccer in September and gain international experience. These players wanted to leave Spain and play in America for a club team in the fall season.”
Phillips said, “Tragically, I had to tell them, ‘You should not leave your women’s club teams in Spain right now to come to play soccer in the U.S. because, we have no place for you to play since our competitive teams do not play in the fall. The absence of the W-League leaves a noticeable and massive void in the national footprint of competitive amateur women’s soccer in the USA.”
While the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) is an independent, amateur national league with over 80 teams participating from all over the United States in 2016 Season, Phillips says, “the void created by the W-League cannot be filled by the WPSL. Simply put, the WPSL does not maintain the same standards and operations that were required to maintain a W-League team and operate a W-League franchise. The W-League operated as close to a professional league as possible.”
According to Phillips, “Many of our top female players are currently playing in colleges and universities, and there is no replacement for the W-League.”
It is clear that living, playing and operating a women’s soccer organization in New York afforded the Magic the distinction of a team with “an international flair” and according to Phillips, “The designation of, the United Nations of Soccer. Therefore, it is not unexpected that she received telephone calls and communications from around the world.”
A strong proponent of women in soccer, Phillips believes that, over the years, this story has repeated itself more times than she cares to mention. Phillips used to follow up with the players by inviting them over for the limited W-League season from May-July, but that was before the W-League folded.
When the W-League ‘ceased operations’ last month, Phillips said, “I stepped off of my soccer treadmill and sat down with my co-owner to take a long, deliberative look at our commitment to soccer and the status of the women’s game in the U.S.”
Phillips asked the following questions:
• What is U.S. Soccer’s vision, strategic plan and commitment to the national footprint of women’s soccer?
• When is the U.S. Soccer Federation going to act on behalf of amateur competitive women’s soccer?
• Where will all of the competitive U.S. female college players/seniors go to play if they cannot earn one of the coveted/limited spots on a NWSL team?
As a strong voice in the landscape of women’s soccer, Phillips wants to ask U.S. Soccer to please listen up:
We Need Action.”
Phillips wants everyone to be aware of how many post-collegiate competitive female players in the U.S. are not playing competitive soccer. She also wants us to all examine how many competitive American female soccer players are unwillingly traveling abroad in search of competitive “pro-am” soccer opportunities because there are no similar pathways in the USA.
“Youth players attended W-League games and got to know and train with W-League players as soccer role models,” says Phillips who understands how important it is to provide role models for today’s youth players.
“Sadly, are you also aware of how many exceptionally competitive female soccer players end their soccer playing days after college or play ‘pick-up’ in local recreational Sunday Leagues, because they cannot earn a position on one of the few and coveted/limited NWSL teams?” said Phillips.
Here are Phillips’ recommendations:
• Create and support an operational 3 tier structured with promotion/relegation: A U.S. Soccer Federation sponsored and managed national amateur women’s soccer league with cross State, Region, Division, Conference and eventually cross National competition – with USWNT visibility, connection and pathways.
• Develop viable affiliations with Major League Soccer similar to Chelsea Ladies, PSG, Bayern Munich, Arsenal Ladies, Olympique Lyonnais and Liverpool Ladies. This would be similar to what also being done in Australia, Spain, and now Italy.
Phillips works tirelessly to further the cause of women’s soccer and discusses pertinent issues on a daily basis. In a recent discussion with Ingrid Green, the two reviewed how beneficial it would be to enlist the support of well known female celebrities and now this is added to the list of recommendations:
• Seek sponsorships from women and public figures who understand, appreciate and support women and soccer, and are financially able to contribute to its viability such as Angelina Jolie and Shakira to name a few.
“Keep working hard and continue making key connections to support women in soccer,” said Phillips — that is what the future should be and this makes all the sense in the world.
Related Article: W-League Will Not Return In 2016