CHICAGO and SANTA MONICA, Calif. Last week head coach of the US Women’s National Team, Jill Ellis, announced the team roster for the players that are headed to the Rio Olympics. On that roster is midfielder Allie Long, who with nine international CAPS and two goals, will for the first time in her career represent the USA during Olympic Games.
Quite a turn around for a player who not so long ago was frustrated and questioned whether she would be called up for the USWNT. However, Long, persevered and through diligent training made the cut and will head to Brazil with the rest of the squad after facing Costa Rica on July 22 at Sporting Park in Kansas City.
Long took a few minutes from her training schedule to speak with IMSoccer about her role models, training, and expectations about the Olympics.
IMSoccer: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. You are a great midfielder who still has a long career ahead. As a young player, who did you admire and why?
Long: “Mia Hamm. She inspired me and made me fall in love with the game of soccer. I wanted to be just like her. She just saw the game differently and scored unreal goals. She’s the original OG!”
IMSoccer: It must be difficult to overcome the stereotypes associated with being a female athlete. You have done that and are now a role model for so many young girls across the country, what words of encouragement can you offer young athletes who have dreams of playing soccer professionally in the NWSL or the Olympics?
Long: Every single person’s journey is different. You can’t waste your time focusing on anyone else. Learn from those who have done what you want to do [and] surround yourself with people who believe in your dreams and push you. You have to work extremely hard and never take “no” for an answer. Remember, failure is a part of the process.
IMSoccer: Physical conditioning is an important element to any athlete’s success. How else are you training to stay at the top of your game?
Long: Mentally! I am working Dan Abrahams, he is a sports psychologist who coaches players in the English Premiere League. He has helped me keep a great mindset. On the physical side, I work on my own and practice game related situations according to position. Being clean on the ball is something I pride myself on. I want to be the best I can be on the ball so I spend time at a wall or racquetball court doing repetitions.
IMSoccer: Thinking about Rio, do you have any major concerns?
Long: Not at all. I am so excited to go and am thankful for the opportunity.
IMSoccer: What are you expectations for yourself and the USWNT for Rio?
Long: I want to be one of the best center-midfielders in the tournament and help lead my team to gold.
On and off the pitch, Long is a consummate professional who is committed to her sport and teammates. The USA is placed in Group G during the Olympics along with New Zealand, France, and Colombia. Their first match is on August 3, 2016 against New Zealand and will be played at Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte.