Mia Hamm* and Julie Foudy, two longtime pillars of the United States women���s national soccer team, were the only players elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame recently from among the 62 players on the ballot. Former teammates Hamm and Foudy, each in their first year of eligibility, comprise the first all-women class elected to the Hall of Fame. The duo will join the five women who have been inducted since the hall began in 1950.
���This is one of those things that when you start playing, you never go out there thinking about this opportunity,��� Hamm said in a telephone interview from Carson, Calif., where the announcement was made. ���We were just trying to promote the game in a positive way. It���s very special to me and means my career is over, which I���m fine with. I���m in a good place in my life in accepting this tremendous honor.���
Hamm was selected on 137 of 141 ballots cast, garnering 97.2 percent of the votes, a record in the 62-year history of the hall, which is located in Oneonta, N.Y. Foudy got 118 votes (83.7 percent of votes cast). They will be inducted Aug. 26.
���Two decades playing for your country, and now to be recognized and grouped with the biggest pioneers and legends of the game is a great honor,��� Foudy said in a telephone interview. ���We could see that we were making an impact, and what I love about the group we played with is that everyone saw the bigger picture. It was important not just to excel on the field, it was a message we wanted to give to young kids about sports, life. It was never a chore. What kept us out there was that we wanted to leave that legacy.���
Hamm and Foudy played on the national team that won two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals. They and the team left an indelible mark on soccer and sports when the United States played host to the 1999 Women���s World Cup in huge stadiums that were often filled to capacity.