Soccer popularity surges among female athletes

Soccer popularity surges among female athletes

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - The U.S. women's team's victorious run toward the World Cup is giving young players at the Heights United Soccer Academy an extra reason to work hard.

"It's inspiring knowing maybe one day we'll get to play at their level," said Senna Proman, who started playing in the fourth grade.

Proman and her teammate, Macy Smith, will enter Cleveland Heights High School next year, where they plan to play on the school's team together.

"Seeing those people come from small places like this and playing in Canada is just amazing," said Smith.

Proman and Smith are two of the 375,000 female high school players across the country. That number is growing.

After the U.S. women's team won the World Cup in 1999, the number of girls playing soccer soared. Research suggests soccer could become the most popular women's sport in the United States.

Sean Sullivan, director of HUSA, said he's observed a spike in female interest during the program's 21 years.

"The greatest increase of the ladies has been in the last eight years, and we're seeing them getting involved either on a younger level, even in the preschool level. I attribute that to the success of the women's U.S. program," said Sullivan.

Success is what everyone at HUSA hopes the U.S. team continues to have, as the team prepares to play England or Japan for the World Cup.

"Japan would be nice to play because they got that lucky goal last year. So it would be great to beat them and let them know America can do it," said Proman.

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