Teesta Sisodia-Sullivan, September 29, 2018
Fans of US Soccer will be very familiar with the name Brianna Pinto. This freshman at the University of North Carolina is also a celebrated member of the US U20 Women's National Team. Many people were introduced to Brianna this past year when she spoke before the FIFA conference in Moscow, helping United 2026 (United States, Mexico and Canada) in their bid to host the World Cup in 2026.
I had an opportunity to send some questions to her parents. Let me share with you what I learned about this remarkable young player
How old was Brianna when she started playing soccer?
Three years old.
Did either of you (Mom/Dad) play soccer?
Brianna's father played at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Doesn't she also have older brothers who play soccer?
Her older brother currently plays for Elon University, and her younger brother plays in the US Soccer Development Academy for North Carolina Fusion.
Did Brianna play other sports as well? If so, at what age did she begin to concentrate on soccer alone?
Brianna enjoyed playing many other sports growing up including tennis, basketball, baseball and cross-country. She always loved soccer and felt as though she could go the furthest with it, especially because she has guidance from her family.
When did you realize that she was an exceptional athlete?
Brianna grew up playing sports with boys. She is naturally competitive and strove to meet & exceed their standard. Even on all boys' teams, Brianna had lots of success in scoring goals. The switch back to the girls was seamless because she spent so many years training in faster environments. We knew she was an exceptional athlete when she was dictating the games while playing against boys.
What did you do to promote her skills?
Brianna had an innate passion for sports, specifically soccer. she would go out everyday and play with her ball. When it was time to start fine tuning her natural ability, we made sure that her ball skills were sharp. This includes passing, dribbling, change of direction, shooting, etc. The goal of this was to ensure that she did not have to rely on her athleticism to succeed.
This was especially important when playing against boys that were bigger and stronger. Being comfortable on the ball ultimately allowed her to think and play more quickly.
How did US Soccer first get in touch with Brianna?
Brianna was scouted at a U-14 ECNL showcase. She was called into her first national team camp (14GNT) a month later at the age of 12.
ECNL is the Elite Clubs National League - created for elite female soccer players in the United States
GNT: Girl's National Team - refers to the United States Girl's National Teams.
U-14 signifies that the team was represented by players under14 years of age.
Has Brianna always trained with NCFC in Raleigh, North Carolina?
Brianna has made many switches to ensure that her development continues. She began recreational soccer at Rainbow Soccer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina before progressing to Triangle United's YDA program. Brianna also played several seasons on various girls and boys teams at what was previously the Triangle Futbol Club.
She moved to the Capital Area Soccer League (CASL) ECNL in Raleigh, NC; this was the most competitive league at the time. Brianna played with the CASL ECNL until her Junior year of high school. In preparation for college, Brianna spent her last youth soccer season at NTH Tophat in Atlanta, GA where she met and played with her current college teammate & roommate, Rachel Jones.
As a parent of an exceptional athlete, were there special challenges you faced? If yes, what were they?
We faced many different challenges, the main challenge was getting our local soccer club to think outside the box and to allow Brianna to develop in a non traditional way. Thus, we looked for clubs that would let her play with the boys until she was 13 years of age. We did this because we wanted to increase her speed of play. Currently, she is able to process and make decisions as fast as the most technical players on the boys side.
What recommendations do you have for parents of athletes?
I recommend that they look for outside the box training in order to push their child in a direction that will develop their technique.
Brianna has already established a name for herself as an advocate for women and soccer. She was extremely composed and articulate when addressing the FIFA congress in the United bid for the World Cup. I realize she is at the start of herr career, but does she have any thoughts about life after soccer?
Brianna has spent several years traveling the world and has developed a passion for architecture. After her soccer career, Brianna would love to still be involved in the growth of the game, but also wants to pursue another career by creating and owning a residential architecture company.
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