Rush Soccer counts on numerous talented, brilliant female coaches and personalities, and we want you to meet them. This quarter we present the Tenacious Christiane Lessa!
Christiane Lessa, Georgia Rush Youth Girls Coach, and also a member of The Rush Coaches Female Alliance is a well-known, experienced, skilled and awesome person that we want you meet.
Originally from Rio do Janeiro, Brazil, she had to overcome social prejudices towards female soccer players in order to start her development. As a result of those obstacles, she became a strong, fierce, competitive player and made it as a Pro in Brazil, Iceland and the United States.
Below you can find some of her career highlights:
Megan McCormick, Rush Soccer’s Coach Education Consultant and RFCA Program Leader, interviewed Christiane on a fun, engaging episode available on our Spotify Channel.
Christiane had to struggle in order to make a name for herself within soccer. Brazilian society was not used to the women’s game, so she overcame social prejudices, but she explained how those obstacles became a huge impulse to pursuit her dream.
“I had to overcome how tough my mother was. She didn’t want me to play soccer. If you tell me that I can’t do something, I’m going to do it just because you said it”
Although she didn’t speak English when she arrived to the US, Christiane fell in love instantly with the American society in terms of respect and gender equality.
“Being treated like you are inferior because of your gender, it makes you want to show that I might not have the same speed, but I’m probably more intelligent in other ways. Then I came to the US, and men were treating women so amazingly, maybe the people that are living here don’t see it, but I’m in paradise”
Along the recording, Christiane explained that her first steps were in Futsal so, when the first soccer trial in Vasco da Gama arrived, she wasn’t aware of her own position or strengths within the game, but somehow got selected anyway. That’s where she met and played alongside the legendary Brazilian Superstar Marta:
“When I was 16 and playing futsal, I met this girl who told me ‘Why don’t you come to try out at Vasco da Gama?’, and then I made it through tryouts. I don’t know how because I had no idea what ‘midfield’ was. The guy asked me ‘what position do you play?’ and I said, ‘I play futsal, so I think I play midfield’. I had skills from futsal and playing with boys in the street, playing in the rain. Marta was there. From 200 girls, just me, Marta and another girl made it. Then of course Marta went to train with the pro team, I trained with them for a couple of days too, but focused on the younger age. I think it is important for the youth in America to understand that we all went through. No one started right away, it took me a while to make it to the main team”
Later, Christiane revealed the moment when she decided to leave Brazil and pursuit her biggest dream:
“I played a little bit and then I saw the 1996 Olympics and became obsessed about coming to America. I said, ‘that’s the country I want to go’. I get a little emotional because 1996 Olympics was it for me. Watching Mia Hamm, those players, they have no idea what these ladies have done not only for the US, but for the whole world”
So, how did the Rush and Christiane found each other? Although it happened a few months ago, Lessa already admired our club’s philosophy.
“My dream was to go back to Brazil, coach professionally there and say ‘Hey guys, see? You didn’t give any value to me as a player or as a women in soccer in general. Now I’m back here and I want to do whatever I can for you to value all the girls’. I went to Brazil and coached there, it was amazing, I got to coach the Brazilian captain and so many other players of the Brazilian National Team. Then the whole Covid happened, I stayed there for three months without being paid, and then the Rush contacted me”
“I was in Iowa when I first heard of Rush. You hear how organized they are, and how they’ve developed some of the players that are taking the game to a different level. And then I went to Georgia and heard about Georgia Rush, I was coaching men professionally at the time, as an Assistant, and one day I said to the Director there, ‘do you have a club here?’, and they told me about Rush. The attitude, the approach, he never promised anything, actually cared for me as a coach, as a person. I think that was what got me”
Christiane completely fell in love with the club and expresses now:
“To be honest, there is not one place in America I would work in terms of youth soccer other than Rush. It’s just the mentality, I love the club, it’s just a good organization. I’ve been through a lot of organizations, but Rush… I felt at home when I came back to the US”
“If you look at 2001, 2010 and 2020… Oh my god, the game has developed so much. Players are faster, stronger, more intelligent, they have more information, they are treated a little bit better. I see the game going on the right direction”
“We still have a long way to go in terms of what we female coaches and players can do. Now that we have the doors open, we can do more, and we deserve more, but we must watch the game, if we want the women’s game to kick in and keep going, these little kids have to be able to have games to watch. For the female coaches, we need them to believe this is going to happen, to coach all levels if they can. The female players relate so much to those experiences”
Thank you Christiane, Thank you Megan! Rush Soccer is proud of you and all the female coaches that make our club better every day. Go Rush!
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