With World Cup fever sweeping across the nation — even with this being the men’s tournament — it’s hard not to think of Brandi Chastain’s championship-winning heroics from the 1999 Women’s World Cup, which is easily one of the most iconic moments in American
soccer sports history.
If you’ve been watching this year’s World Cup, you’ve likely seen Chastain recreate her iconic celebration during the phenomenal “soccer vs. football” Frito-Lay spots that have been running throughout the tournament.
But the two-time World Cup winner’s involvement with the company extends far beyond just a few commercials as Chastain has teamed up with the snack giant for the “All-In with Frito-Lay” initiative with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, which is the first step in a three-year commitment three-year commitment to increase equity in soccer by working with partners and organizations to enhance resources and training for young athletes.
Earlier this week, not long after the men’s team defeated Iran, Chastain helped kick off the initiative by surprising more than 200 athletes at a practice in her home state of California, joining freestyle soccer stars Frankie Flo, DJ Diveny, Hayley Gonzales and Caitlyn Schrepfer in running a series of drills that included trick shots, footwork, and passing.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Chastain the day after the event to chat about her work with Frito-Lay and also got her thoughts on how the men’s team will fare against the Netherlands this weekend.
Sportscasting’s interview with Brandi Chastain
Sportscasting: I’m joined today by two-time World Cup champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and all-around American soccer icon Brandi Chastain. Thank you for being here today.
Brandi Chastain: My pleasure. I’m super grateful for the opportunity to obviously talk about what’s happening in the world of soccer here in the U.S. but also abroad. We’ve got a lot to talk about.
Sportscasting: That we do. Now, for anyone who’s been watching the World Cup they’ve undoubtedly seen you in these incredible Frito-Lay spots with Peyton Manning and David Beckham — the football versus soccer debate where you’re recreating your classic celebration from the ’99 World Cup.
But you’ve got a lot more going on at Frito-Lay than just these awesome spots. Can you tell us about the All-In Initiative that you’re involved in with the U.S. Soccer Foundation and the surprise that you gave some youngsters this week?
Brandi Chastain: Yes, absolutely. I’m super excited about talking about the All-In with Frito-Lay Initiative and the partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation. If you know anything about me, Luke, you know that my ambition for elevating the game is really paramount to what I do. I have always been an advocate and an ally for accessibility and opportunity and inclusion.
As a young girl playing soccer, it wasn’t something that was really for me, technically speaking, you know. People weren’t clamoring to get young girls out on the field. And so when Frito-Lay came to me and said, ‘Hey, listen, we have this All-In Initiative, and we want to contribute $600,000 in our first step of a three-year plan to the U.S. Soccer Foundation to train over a thousand coaches who are going to be given resources and equipment and opportunities to increase their coaching knowledge so that they can then go out to communities across this country and influence more than 30,000 young athletes and give accessibility to people who have not had access to the game, do you want to be a part of that?’ I’m like, oh yeah.
So last night, we did our first clinic initiative movement on the ground down in the East LA area in Pico Rivera, which happens to be the hometown of one of our U.S. men’s team players, Cristian Roldan. And so to be at the park where he grew up playing soccer and learning to fall in love with it and seeing the eyes light up when the freestyles came out with all their fancy, incredible, body-contorting tricks that they do with the ball and to inspire these young players to realize that the field belongs to them.
It doesn’t matter how old they are, what shape they are, how much money they have, where their parents came from. If they want to come, it’s for them. And it was great fun. I think empowering young people to believe that they are the stewards of this great game is a gift that I will be continuing to give throughout my life.
And I want them to really understand that the coaches are there as a guide — as guidance counselors or guardrails for their safety and their access to the game. And that they are really the ones who are going to shape the way the game looks in the future. So I think that makes them feel really good, right? They can flex their muscles, and they can feel like it really does belong to me, no matter how I look.
And so I thought that was really the shining moment of the evening where all the players felt the confidence to do the exercises or to try the tricks. And this was well said by DJ and Frankie and Caitlyn and Hayley — that to be a football freestyler, you’re going to get it wrong more than you’re ever going to get it right. Learning a new trick takes hours of grinding and determination and getting it wrong.
But also what you learn when you get it wrong is that maybe in getting it wrong, you get a new trick. And so I think what was kind of a revelation for some of these kids that it might not bounce the way you thought it was going to bounce, but then you hit it in this way, and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I just realized I had the capacity.’ And so that was really exciting. I really enjoyed that a lot.
Sportscasting: Did you put the cleats back on? Did you get out there?
Brandi Chastain: Oh, I was out there doing a few tricks and some skills, and we had Tina Mahal from Frito-Lay, who’s Senior Vice President, doing some skills. You know, soccer’s for everybody. And I think that’s what I love about the All-In with Frito-Lay Initiative. That we are making sure that the messaging is accessibility, inclusivity, and that we will together create this trickle-down effect from mentoring role models and coaches to now influencing these young people to give them access so they can go out and be the people who will come back and be the coaches and the mentors for the next generation.
Sportscasting: And the timing of this was well-designed to do it around what is the biggest sporting event on the planet in the World Cup. Those who may not have known much about soccer — or football, depending on which way you go — you know, those who may not know as much about the game are seeing these games on all day.
And they’re just getting to know it and getting excited about the men’s team doing what they’re doing and what they did this week against Iran, watching Christian Pulisic put his body on the line. So I think the timing to get more people excited about this great game and for an icon like yourself to be involved with it obviously helps so much. It’s someone who’s played the game at the highest level getting in there to help, and I think that speaks volumes about the initiative as a whole.
Brandi Chastain: Well, I have to give a great amount of respect and gratitude to Frito-Lay because they didn’t have to use soccer as a vehicle for accessibility and change. But what they did see is they’re recognizing an opportunity in the world’s greatest game.
And because of that, now we are going to influence so many young people’s lives. And actually, the lives of so many of us coaches who really have ambition about not only being good stewards of the game but also driving the game in a positive direction.
And so, honestly, when big, successful, powerful companies like Frito-Lay choose to be all-in on initiatives that change accessibility, that makes a massive difference. That changes the conversation completely. And so for me, yes, I think as somebody who grew up at a time where there wasn’t this access, I mean, last night was like I was in heaven.
I was in heaven because I was remembering my 10-year-old self going to soccer camp where there were 300 boys and four girls. And thinking about when I decided to go to the park to play that there wasn’t anybody who was playing soccer. And it was me and a wall and a ball and not even a goal — didn’t even have a goal. So I just had to conjure up all these ideas and sometimes fake opponents, and now they have each other, right?
Kids have each other, and they can come to the park. They know they’re welcome. They know it’s for them. There are going to be people who are going to support them. And to have a supporter like Frito-Lay, I think, gives credibility to the whole program.
Sportscasting: I love it. I think it’s great. So as we close up here, I have to get your thoughts on this weekend. We discussed it already with the men getting their big win to get out of the group stage, and they now face a tough opponent in the Netherlands on Saturday morning. How do you see that game playing out? And I need a full prediction — I’m talking final score and everything, Brandi.
Brandi Chastain: You know, I have to say that I’m not the best at the predictions.
Sportscasting: It’s so hard.
Brandi Chastain: We’ve seen in this tournament that the sure things aren’t the sure things.
Sportscasting: But the parity is good, though.
Brandi Chastain: Yes. And that’s what makes our success here in the U.S. so remarkable. Not just finding quality players — there’s a lot of great quality out there now that didn’t exist, let’s say, generations ago. But now it’s how do you put them on the field so that they can be successful together?
And what I was going to say about this weekend is, number one, yes, we can win the game, for sure. Christian Pulisic’s contribution, whether he can play or not, will absolutely influence the outcome. However, the beauty of playing in a World Cup is also knowing that there’s 26 capable, competent players and people are just going to have to step up.
Sportscasting: Yeah, these other guys are on the team for a reason.
Brandi Chastain: Exactly. And so I think deciding who and how we’re going to do that if he cannot play will be something that will really define Gregg Berhalter, to be honest. But the opponent has historically changed the way soccer is coached and played.
You know, we go back to the Johan Cruyff days — not only as a player but then how he morphed into a coach that really transcended his country and really, I think, gave way to what we look at in Barcelona in Spain specifically and how they play the game and they value the ball and how they have this kind of passive aggressiveness toward scoring and how they do that and how they can just dominate.
And so I think we have that in our head. But I’m not so sure that the team the Netherlands has is the team that Johany Cruyff played on. You know, they might not be the van Bastens or the van Nistelrooys or the like, but they have a lot to live up to, too, so the pressure is on them. They’re playing the U.S. They should win.
And so I think there’s a lot of psychological warfare that will be happening leading up to that game. And for me, that’s the fun part. Who gets to feel the comfort? Who gets to feel the pressure? And can we handle the moments? And I am really looking forward to Saturday. It’s going to be excellent.
Sportscasting: Yeah, it’s big deal, obviously, and the world will be watching. And as they’re watching, they’ll be seeing you in these Frito-Lay ads. These are just hilarious, just so much fun.
Brandi Chastain: Well, when they put a director like Michael Bay on that.
Sportscasting: Oh, really? Did they do that?
Brandi Chastain: Yeah.
Sportscasting: Okay, that makes much more sense to me now. But what you’re doing with Frito-Lay overall has been great. I know you’re very busy, especially this time of year with everything going on, so I want to thank you for your time today, Brandi. I wish you the best of luck with the initiative moving forward and we’ll certainly be following along.
Brandi Chastain: Awesome. I appreciate you, Luke. Take care.
Sportscasting: Take care now.
We’d certainly like to thank Brandi Chastain for taking the time to chat with us, as well as our pals at Ketchum Inc. for setting things up.
Have thoughts on this topic? Keep the conversation rolling in our comments section below.