Having grown up in the United States during the golden era of women's football when the likes of Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Julie Foudy and countless others were paving the way for future women's footballers, former New Zealand international Rebecca Smith had a front row seat to see the power and impact the beautiful game can have on women and girls across the world.
Smith served as New Zealand's captain at the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007™ and the centre-back was recognised later in the year as a nominee for FIFA Women's World Player of the Year. In her 11-year career with the Football Ferns, she won 74 caps and scored six goals along the way. When asked about the impact football has had on her life, beginning with her time in the States, Smith was grateful for the opportunity to be exposed to the game at such a young age.
"Growing up in the US meant that I saw a lot of great women’s footballers," Smith recalled fondly. "I still remember being one of over 90,000 fans in the Rose Bowl for the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final when the US team won the title. The captain of that side was Carla Overbeck, who I fortunately had the chance to work with during my time playing soccer at Duke University. She was the assistant coach of our team and has always been someone that I’ve looked up to for help and advice."
As a Live Your Goals Ambassador, Smith is now working to advance FIFA’s mission to provide girls and women around the world with the opportunity to play football at all levels. "Football has given me the chance to live, work and travel in so many countries," she said. "I feel very lucky to have played football in the US, Sweden, Australia, Germany and New Zealand as well as playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Olympics."
With Smith's help, the FIFA Live Your Goals campaign is aiming to have 45 million girls and women around the world playing football by the next FIFA Women's World Cup in 2019.