The Heroes and Inspirations of the 7v7 Men’s National Team

Everyone has heard that the United States Women’s National Team is fighting in court for their compensation and an overwhelming majority support their fight. However, not everyone has heard that the 7v7 (Paralympic) side is also in dire need of compensation for the efforts the team provides. In this article we will discuss who the 7v7 side is and why they need our help. Remember, You are capable of joining this fight.

People will listen and people will support you. If nothing else, I will support you.

For those who are unfamiliar with the 7v7 Men’s National Team, all of the members suffer from a disability that may not be visible to the human eye. Athletes may have a diagnosis of non-progressive brain damage that is creates a motor control dysfunction such as cerebral palsy, a traumatic brain injury or a stroke. All of these men have overcome significant hardship to prove to us all that anything is possible. Doctors may have told these guys that they will never play the beautiful game again, but they have overcome the problems just like I firmly believe with our help, we can overcome the hardships they face of not being fairly compensated for their success.

This is a team that is full of heroes and inspirations to us all. They play and reassure those with disabilities that no matter what happens, you can always achieve what you put your mind to. Many of these players have been or are part of the family that is the U.S Military. In the 2016 Paralympic World Cup that occurred this past summer, four of the fourteen are part of the Armed Forces. These men include team captain Seth Jahn representing Lakeland, Florida, defender David Garza representing San Diego, California, defender Gavin Sibayan representing Denver, Colorado, and midfielder Josh Brunais, the US Army Veteran out of Stafford, Virginia who carried our nation’s pride, the stars and stripes, at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. We thank these brave men for their service in defending our nation and now we continue cheering them on in their mission of bringing soccer glory to our great nation. The story doesn’t stop here; the US 7v7 side has a few of my fellow Ohioans in the names of goalkeeper Alex Hendricks of Columbus, Ohio and midfielder Tyler Bennett of Akron, Ohio. U.S Disabled Player of the Year and prolific striker Adam Ballou comes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Striker Drew Bremer of Grand Rapids, Michigan and goalkeeper Sean Boyle from Minneapolis, Minnesota represent the Northern States. Coming from the West Coast, there’s defender Bryce Boarman of Colorado Springs, Colorado and San Diego midfielder Mason Abbiate. Coming from the beautiful Southern states are midfielders Steven Bohlemann of Weston, Florida, Gregory Brigman of Harrisburg, North Carolina, and Kevin Hensley of Memphis, Tennessee. Now you have met the team and know who you are standing up and fighting for.

USPNT
One nation, one team. Except only some of the teammates get paid.

As of the December 15th, 2016 rankings the US National Side are in 6th place, sitting below Ukraine, Brazil, Netherlands, Argentina and Ireland. Rounding out the top eight are Russia and England. Of the elite eight of 7v7 soccer, only one nation does not have a full time program dedicated to the sport. Did you guess the United States? Neither did I when I was first asked.

In order to continue the development of US Soccer and see the US as number one in every aspect of the game, we need to have adequate funding for these guys and a full time program. It isn’t very rare for a player to hang up their boots early on this team because he needs a better paying job. At any given time, the US Soccer Federation has more cash in the bank than many of us would know what to do with. However, the USSF doesn’t deem it necessary to provide these guys with the compensation they deserve while their counterparts around the world do. The USMNT players, per PBS, makes $76,000 just for making the World Cup roster. The USWNT players, who are in court fighting their wage issues, make $15,000 for making the World Cup roster. The US 7v7 side gets travel costs and dinner checks paid for, however there is no pay for making the team or achieving success like the USMNT and USWNT see.

I firmly believe that the US 7v7 side have done more than enough in their career to earn at least $15,000 for making rosters. However, when it comes to the exact dollar amount, many can argue  for days. These players cannot take the financial risk of taking the stand in court and facing the punishment that Hope Solo received. We have to take the stand and fight for them. All I ask is that the minimum you do is join me in taking that stand. There are endless ways that you can contribute.

It is time to Reform the USSF and clean up US Soccer once and for all, what are you waiting for? 

Join me in the fight on twitter (@aidan_reagh), join the movement (@AmericanSoccerU), and use the official movement hashtag #ReformUSSF. Keep an eye out for new articles on USSFreform.com and on social media and always feel welcome to send your own content to be hosted on our site.

-Aidan Reagh

You can reach us through our social media accounts or by emailing AmericanSoccerUnited@gmail.com

4 Replies to “The Heroes and Inspirations of the 7v7 Men’s National Team”

  1. As much as I’d like to see these guys get funded, underfunding for athletes is a problem across all non-major/ non-popular/ non-prime time sports, not just soccer. Even getting travel costs and meal allowances is more than some other athletes get (Olympic or Paralympic). Many athletes pay for training and travel out of their own pocket in order to compete at the highest levels. On top of that where is the women’s Paralympic soccer team? I’d also like to see the time commitment needed for the Paralympic team v. non-Paralympic team in terms of training, game play, travel time, etc. I don’t disagree that US Soccer needs some reform and that this team is special and needs support, but I also think its important to look at things with perspective so the funding goes to the right places ( women’s Paralympics programs, special needs programs, inner city programs, youth programs) in a balanced and fair manner, and not over-simplify things with a simple one-for-one.

    1. Hello,
      I agree with you that funding is an issue for all athletes and all sports that are “underground” or just not respected as much as the athletes deserve. This is just one article on one sport, I assure you that I am working on other articles for teams such as the USWNT, Futsal, and Beach teams. I will also add to my project ideas list that you would like to see some addressing to funding select programs and keep updates on my twitter (@aidan_reagh) for upcoming projects.
      Thank You,
      Aidan R.

  2. As a father to one of the USPNT captains I can give some insight on the questions posed by Allison.

    As far as commitment, players are in the gym several times each week. What gym, and at what cost is left up to them. Many participate in adult leagues playing alongside able-bodied athletes. My son often plays with recently graduated college and former pro (MLS) players to get touches on the ball.

    USPNT holds monthly training camps in Chula Vista, CA, L.A. or Tampa, FL. US Soccer pays for transportation, lodging and food. The players of course have to take off from jobs, school and other commitments. Same goes for international tournaments.

    Prior to the lead up to the 2016 Rio Games, most of the rostered players lived in the first ever residency camp in Atlanta where they trained everyday for several months. Many held part-time jobs while participating in this camp. At least one player decided to quit their lucrative full-time job back home in order to participate in this amazing opportunity, another post-poned a job start. My son who was coaching for a local club team gave up his roomates and living arrangement and his coaching job to live and train at the residency camp.

    Contrast that with other 7v7 Nations where players are paid so they can recruit more players and essentially train everyday and you see the disadvantage the U.S. program faces.

    As for a women’s USPNT. That would be a great goal and moves in that direction are on the horizon. Right now, I don’t know of any other countries where women with these type of disabilities are fielding Paralympic Games level teams so the lack of competition would be an obstacle. the U.S. does have a Women’s Deaf Team (under another governing body) which is the current World Cup Champion.

    A greater social media campaign and growing fan base since head coach Stuart Sharp took over the USPNT has garnered the program much more exposure than before. U.S. Soccer has been supportive in this effort. A grassroots program for Paralympic Soccer is beginning at Clemson University and hopes of other programs and feeder pipelines are in the future.

    I don’t think anyone is of the assumption the USPNT is capable of garnering monetary compensation in the range of the USMNT or USWNT because it is currently not revenue generating. Continued support for the program and training camps, opportunities for players as inspirational speakers on behalf of U.S. Soccer and greater exposure can lead to increase compensation from sponsors as well as USSF.

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