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:
- Played for Union (Ky.) College in 2002 and three seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) University in Miami.
- Played alongside Brazilian Superstar Marta and made it as a Pro in her country, where she played for Fluminense, Vasco da Gama and Team Chicago Brazil.
- Also played profesionally in Iceland for Haukar and Fylkir Football Club in the summer of 2005 and 2006. Miami Kickers of the Women's Premier Football League in Miami was her last team.
- She's a former Assistant Coach for Sky Blue and Youth Coach for Washington Spirit, both of the NWSL.
- She's currently Georgia Rush's Head Coach for the 2012 girls, 2009 girls and 2008 boys’ team, as well as Assistant Coach for the U19 boys' team.
- Christiane was awarded as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's NJCAA Division I Women's Soccer Coach of the Year in 2015.
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"
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"
"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"
"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"
The Rush Female Coaches Alliance is beautiful program in which we highlight, on a quarterly basis, some of the amazing female coaches that are part of Rush Soccer.
If you want to know more about this program or know an excelling female coach whose profile should be highlighted, email firstname.lastname@example.org