Demand the Soccer Ball

Here Abby Wambach talks about how Michelle Akers demanded the soccer ball when she wanted her team to win in a small sided game. Imagine what Akers was like, or how she demanded the soccer ball when she was playing in the World Cup.

The Time an Angry Messi Dribbled the Whole Team

But the truth is all players should demand the soccer ball and want the ball all the time. To offer their teammate support and to want to make something happen for their team. Just wanting the ball and demanding it brings confidence to your team as a whole. Everyone is on the same page, want the ball, wanting to win, wanting to keep possession of the ball:

When I was a teenager, I was lucky enough to play with one of my heroes, Michelle Akers. She needed a place to train since there was not yet a women’s professional league. Michelle was tall like I am, built like I’d be built, and the most courageous soccer player I’d ever seen play. She personified every one of my dreams.

We were playing a small sided scrimmage—5 against 5. We were eighteen-year-olds and she was—Michelle Akers—a chiseled, thirty-year-old powerhouse. For the first three quarters of the game, she was taking it easy on us, coaching us, teaching us about spacing, timing and the tactics of the game.

By the fourth quarter, she realized that because of all of this coaching, her team was losing by three goals. In that moment, a light switched on inside of her.

She ran back to her own goalkeeper, stood one yard away from her, and screamed:


And the goalkeeper gave her the effing ball.

And she took that ball and she dribbled through our entire effing team and she scored.

Now this game was winner’s keepers, so if you scored you got the ball back. So, as soon as Michelle scored, she ran back to her goalie, stood a yard away from her and screamed:


The keeper did. And again she dribbled though us and scored. And then she did it again. And she took her team to victory.

Michelle Akers knew what her team needed from her at every moment of that game.

Don’t forget that until the fourth quarter, leadership had required Michelle to help, support, and teach, but eventually leadership called her to demand the ball.

Abby Wambach full speech: Barnard Commencement 2018