You didn't have to grow up kicking around black-and-white checkered balls to know Mia Hamm's name or what she accomplished for soccer and women. Two years ago, ESPN recognized Hamm, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup champion, with the title of the greatest female athlete of the last 40 years.
From soccer star to soccer mom, the 42-year-old mother of three (she's married to former Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra)—who was just named Residence Inn's 2014 Resident Mom of the Year—still fully supports and raises funds for the development of opportunities for young women in sports. That includes cheering on the guys who will be playing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil in Rio, starting June 12.
“It's the greatest sporting event in the world—comparable to the Olympics. You see the passion in the atmosphere that is created with every match,” says Hamm. “I'm going to be nervous watching them and will be cheering my lungs out back home. Hopefully my screams will make a difference!"
Leading up to the main event, Nike released a four-minute commercial where boys playing pick-up shout out which elite soccer player they are and then literally become the real pro on the field (catch the star-studded clip below!).
“I love the commercial because that's how you grew up playing any sport. If you've ever said 'I'm Michael Jordan' or 'I'm Dr. J' and now maybe 'I'm Cristiano Ronaldo,' you'll get it,” says Hamm, who has no doubt that Nike will come up with something equally fun and creative for the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada next summer.
Who's on Hamm's fantasy fútbol team? If given the opportunity, she'd scoop up Argentina's Lionel Messi (forward), Uruguay's Louis Suarez (forward), Portugal's Ronaldo (forward), Spain's Andres Iniesta (midfielder), and USA's Michael Bradley (midfielder) and Tim Howard (goalkeeper). Funny, Ronaldo has long been a part of our fantasy too, Mia!