Mia Hamm, USA
Co-owner of Los Angeles FC
In the pantheon of football greats, Mia Hamm stands shoulder to shoulder with anyone – male or female. Her on-field exploits speak for themselves, but her modern-day accomplishments almost supersede them. A co-owner of Los Angeles FC, Hamm is also a global ambassador for Spanish giants Barcelona, and has been on the board of Serie A outfit Roma – reinforcing her position as a global footballing powerhouse. Unsurprisingly, the mum-of-two is a huge exponent for the positives around girls playing sport – both in school and out. She speaks regularly on the importance of increasing participation numbers for both overall health and wellbeing, and also the development of elite talent.
– Hamm is a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, and two-time World Cup winner with the USA.
– Hamm has a list of accolades include a top-3 place in the best female footballers of the 20th century, and was also named in the FIFA100 – a list of the 125 greatest living player, both male and female.
– Such was Hamm’s resonance in US pop-culture, she was once mentioned in the hit TV show Friends.
Did you know…
Mia founded the Mia Hamm Foundation following the death of her adopted brother to a rare blood disease. The foundation raises funds and awareness, helping families in need of bone marrow transplants.
“There are always new, grander challenges to confront, and a true winner will embrace each one.” – Mia Hamm
Tanni Grey-Thompson, UK
One of the most recognisable figures of the early Paralympic movement, Wales’ Tanni Grey-Thompson continues to expand her influence as a champion for sport, disability rights and social issues in all spheres of life. Spina bifida – a defect of the backbone – never affected her outlook on life as a child growing up in Wales and, by the end of her career as a wheelchair racer in 2007, she had won 17 Paralympic medals and held 30 world records. Grey-Thompson’s stature as a public figure is as powerful as ever since retirement, now wielding a direct influence in British politics as a life peer in the House of Lords.
– Won 11 gold medals across four Paralympic Games (Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004).
– Was asked by the UCI to participate on a three-person commission to investigate the Lance Armstrong doping scandal in 2012.
– One of 66 living ‘sporting legends’ to be a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, which promotes social change through sport.
Did you know…
Grey-Thompson’s first name is Carys, but Tanni stuck ever since her sister called her ‘tiny’ after seeing her for the first time.
“People come up to me and say: ‘Oh, wow! How do you cope with being in a wheelchair?’ but there’s not ever a bit of me that thinks, ‘I wish I could walk!’, because walking wouldn’t give me anything I don’t have now.” – Tanni Grey-Thompson
Rimla Akhtar, UK
Football Association Council
The FA Council has historically been stuffed with ‘blazers’, almost exclusively of one colour, and of an older generation. That Rimla Akhtar became the first Muslim woman to take up a seat on a board that drives policy for England’s national pastime is a measure of the influence she wields and respect she commands within British sport. Akhtar fully embraced her Muslim identity in public after growing weary of hiding her true self during an era of anti-Islam sentiment in the mid-2000s. She became chair of the Muslim Women Sports Foundation in 2005 and through their promotion of inclusivity and tolerance, particularly surrounding FIFA’s then-ban of the hijab, the FA soon discovered that Akhtar provided an invaluable voice for under-represented communities. She continues to advise and lead sports groups and bodies, both home and abroad, on issues of diversity within sport.
– Akhtar is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and grew up in London during the 1980s, when racism was rife.
– Founder of global sports development consultancy firm, Rhimjim Consulting, having started her career with Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
– Among her many roles, is a trustee of football anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out.
Did you know…
Akhtar is a gifted sportsperson and has represented the British Muslim Women’s futsal team as captain in a number of tournaments.
“For me, sport was just an area where I felt like I was accepted – nobody cared about the colour of my skin, that I wore a piece of cloth around my head, the fact I was a girl. All they cared about was how well I could play.” – Rimla Akhtar