Thorns FC players lead annual Girl Strong clinic to encourage girls to feel confident, valued, and inspired to stay active

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC hosted 75 local girls for a day of empowerment and play as part of the club’s fourth annual Girl Strong Clinic at the team Training Facility in Beaverton, Oregon May 5.

Midfielders Midge Purce and Dagny Brynjarsdottir, goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom, and forward Ana Crnogorčević joined the girls in soccer drills, a yoga and mindfulness exercise, and a voice empowerment workshop.

“I think it’s really important for us to be here,” Brynjarsdottir said. “At some point, we were just like them – little girls just starting to play. So, I think it’s important for them to see us in such a close environment to make them believe they can reach their dreams. Whatever they want to do, they can do it.”

Stand Together, the Timbers and Thorns community platform, started Girl Strong in 2016 to address the staggering number of young girls dropping out of sports.

“By the age of 14, girls drop out of sports twice as often as boys due to factors like social stigma, absence of positive role models, and lack of access,” said Jordan Farwell, community impact manager for Timbers and Thorns FC. “Professional athletes have the opportunity to help influence the next generation of young women to stay involved in sports, pursue their dreams, and stay healthy through play.”

Soccer skills are at the center of the clinic, but the heart of each station was truly self-confidence, teamwork, and empowerment of self and of others.

“One of our drills is voice empowerment where the players vocally identify something about themselves they are proud of and something kind about the person passing the ball to them,” Farwell explained. “This helps create effective and clear communication with teammates. Strengthening the voice on the field will strengthen it in our daily lives. It is important to have the group identify what makes them unique, and find something they are proud of about themselves as well as pay compliments to those around them.”

Additionally, the Girl Strong clinic included a yoga station for the first time to focus on mindfulness and meditation which proved to be a hit amongst all participants.

“We started with different breath work and went over a sun salutation to get the body moving and grooving,” said Dana Spitz, a yoga instructor from YoYo Yogi. “Then we did a visual meditation where I asked them to repeat in their head: ‘I am strong, I matter, and I am important.’ They all responded to this very well, so that was a very special moment for me.”

Most of the participants started the day as strangers – a little nervous, shy, and apprehensive – but by days end, they had all opened up and made 74 new friends.

“We hope every girl walks away feeling confident, valued, inspired to stay active and keep challenging themselves – and with a network of new friends to help support them,” Farwell said.