Our Game. Our Stories.
The essence of soccer is captured in the fact that it connects a wide variety of people in a dynamic way. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we are profiling 20 individuals who have made a significant impact on the game of soccer or who have been impacted by soccer in a positive way. Here, we will show you the diversity of the beautiful game and how it connects everyone as one universal team...Together, We Are Soccer.
This is our game and these are our stories. Be sure to visit our site every week to see who we feature next!
Representative Chris Van Hollen
Member of Congress Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) was elected to Congress in 2002 and quickly earned a reputation among fellow representatives as an active, engaged, and effective leader. He is best known for his role as a Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee. Van Hollen serves Maryland’s 8th District – an area that includes soccer-hungry communities like Bethesda, Potomac, and Rockville. As a former player, Representative Van Hollen is a passionate soccer supporter. He is a Co-Chair of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Congressional Soccer Caucus and participated in the inaugural Capital Soccer Classic in 2013.
Did you grow up playing soccer? Which position did you play?
I played center midfielder through grade school and some in high school.
How did participating in team sports prepare you for your career in politics?
Soccer gives a lot of lessons that apply to politics - you need to adapt quickly to new situations, work with your team to create opportunities, and take the shot when you’ve got it.
Tell us about your experience at last year’s Capital Soccer Classic. What was your favorite part?
It was great to see so many excited soccer fans out, participating in clinics throughout the day, and cheering during the game. It was a fun atmosphere for a great cause – to support the Soccer for Success program and bring soccer to under-resourced communities.
Your district is home to some very soccer-hungry communities. How have you seen the game positively impact your district?
Soccer is very popular in my district, and kids play on school teams, in community leagues, and for local soccer clubs. It’s a great way to build community as children and parents interact for practices and games. When I coached my son’s soccer team, one of our proudest moments was both winning the league title and winning the sportsmanship award, which was based on a vote among peers. As a sport that requires so much interaction among players, soccer provides a great opportunity to reinforce sportsmanship and fair play.
As a member of the Congressional Soccer Caucus, you’re committed to promoting soccer as a tool for youth development and encouraging healthy lifestyles in children. Why do you think soccer is such a great vehicle for social change?
Soccer is a simple sport – you just need a ball – so it’s easy for any community to pick up and get started. You can get kids running around right away, and then you build in the structure of the teams and the relationships with coaches and mentors and you have a very positive environment.