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18.11.2009 10:04

Mia Hamm: "It is a great honour”

Berta Brau

Mia Hamm has revealed how honoured she feels to become a new ambassador for FC Barcelona and the club's Fundación around the world. The United States female football legend spoke to Barça TV.

"My name is Mia Hamm and I was a forward for the United States female team that played in the Olympic Games," he stated at her introduction at Barça after being confirmed as a representative for the next three years.

Having retired in 2004 after 17 years playing at the highest level the renowned striker is now dedicating her time to her family and her own foundation that looks to promote the position of women in world sport.

Ten years ago Hamm started the Mia Hamm Foundation and that will now tie in with the Barça Fundació.

What does this mean to you?

2009-11-19_ENTREVISTA_MIA_HAMM_007.JPG"When Barça contacted me I was very flattered by the fact that such a big club wanted me to help. They are more than a club as they want to be socially responsible too. The club do not only want to win everything they can, they want to do it with dignity and respect. That is easy to see by the players that they choose to bring in and then instil in them all the values that the club stands for. Being part of it all is a great honour for me."

Why did you choose to accept the proposal of being an ambassador for FC Barcelona?

"The fact that I was brought up with a similar philosophy based on sharing, being part of a team and understanding the strength of that while at the same time striving to be the best player. That is why to have the opportunity to be connected to this club and to help it grow, not only here, but also in the United States and around the world, is a great honour. As for the Fundación, there could be children in Africa, Mexico or Asia that need our help and then could one day play for Barça. Those are the kind of great stories I would like to help write."

How would you explain what Barça is and what your new role will entail?

04_Gold_Medal_Kick.jpg"I would cite the slogan 'més que un club'. It is the most important club in the world and they do everything with the utmost respect to everyone and wit the notion to give back what the people put into the club. My mission consists only in aiding them, helping where I can. I will only be a small part of what has already been created. The role will be to help the club and the sport grow in the United States and also to help people across the world."

Have you been able to follow Barça throughout your life in the United States?

"In recent years the coverage of European football in the United States has improevd a lot. I grew up watching Mexican football because that was all that we could see on television in the 1980's. It was not until cable television took off that we then had access to European games. I remember first watching football frmo Europe when Johan Cruyff was in charge at Barça. There are many names like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and from the current team like Puyol, Piqué, Henry. There is class and style in every position and these players come here because they believe in the philosophy of Barça and they know that they can play at the highest level."

You are interested in the world that is done with the Barça youth teams...

2009-11-20_ENTRENO_03.JPG"They do marvellous work with the youngsters and the players all learn the club philosophy from an early age. They are all very good players individually, but it is equally commendable that they play like a team. They coach them that every day so that they can shine on the pitch and help the team win. many players have come through the youth ranks at Barcelona and play for the first team and for Spain and have won the Champions League too. All this shows why they put so much into instilling the Barça philosophy into them."
You received two FIFA World Player of the Year awards, in 2001 and 2002. Now xavi and Lionel Messi are candidates this year.

"They have the qualities and the talent and they deserve it. I think that as a player you do not go out thinking about winning the FIFA World Player award, but you play like you know how. You have to work hard every day so that your team-mates, your coach, your family and the fans are proud of you and then whatever happens happens. We are talking two of the best players in the world at the moment so this is a great time for them."

FC Barcelona are looking for more success this season. What advice would you give them as someone who has been there?

2009-11-19_ENTREVISTA_MIA_HAMM_003.JPG"It is not easy to maintain the same level and they will know as players that having the reputation that FC Barcelona has then the other teams always raise their game. While the opposition respect you, the Barça players will give everything to win and that is why they have won so many trophies. The only advice I could give would be to tell them to work hard every day at 100 per cent so that the coach can have all his players at their best. Any complacency in a club like this would be difficult because Barça always has to be the best."
Mia Hamm: “It is a great honour”

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Life as a player
What do you remember most about your time as a player?

"I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to play and compete in this sport. When I was young I tried several different sports and activities like music, but football was my passion. In fact, the lessons that it taught me for life and that will always stay with me as communication, team work, dedication and commitment."

Your success as a player was an inspiration to many girls and women. Why do you think so many look up to you?

"Maybe it is my outlook on the pitch and in life that was steered by respect for others and respect for the way I play. Also, with my commitment to try and do everything I could to be my best. I have never worked to do enough and have always wanted to be at my best and to reach my maximum potential."

When you reach such a high level in sport can one forget where one came from? Do you know where it all started for you?

"I have a brother and two older sisters that played. I admired my brother a lot and often used to go and watch him train. He played several different spot, but what he achieved playing football were great. At the same time feminine football experienced a huge growth and there were more opportunities for girls. As soon as I was able to join a team I took up the spot. I thought that playing in the World Cup Finals was enough but then feminine football was included in the Olympic Games and I went there."

How has it been to work so hard in what is seen a man's world?

"I see it as a challenge. We were lucky that there are so many people with an open mentality. I think it was more about tradition than anything else. You have to understand that the women's game is not the same as the man's game or an alternative. We have our own thing. There are so many girls that want to play and enjoy this sport. It is more important how football affects your life. I think that there is enough space for both the men's and women's games to thrive."

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