Leaders prepare to welcome millions to Washington's World Cup

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Today the U.S. women’s national soccer team officially punched their ticket to the knockout round of the World Cup. Advancing against stiff competition, they are still in the hunt for an unprecedented third consecutive title.

With all this action, soccer fans in Washington have a ton to be excited about right now. Seattle’s National Women’s Soccer League team, the OL Reign, sent eight players to the national squad. And there are several Washingtonians playing in the tournament too — like Dom Randle who grew up in Sammamish, Alicia Barker from Woodinville, and University of Washington graduate Jessika Cowart. All three women are representing the Philippines in the World Cup this summer. 

That's not all. In just a few years, Washington is bringing the World Cup home. Seattle is officially one of the cities that will host games during the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The excitement surrounding major sporting events like the World Cup can help spur interest among children and youth in the outdoors and sports. This year’s budget included $12.4 million in new funding for equitable access to community outdoor athletic facilities. The governor also signed SB 5257 this year, which mandates that public schools must provide a minimum of 30 minutes of daily recess for all elementary school students.

Opportunities for kids to play are vital for their intellectual, physical and social development. It’s also about letting kids have fun. That’s why it’s key to ensure that growing Washingtonians have access to gyms and fields — and time in their daily lives to take advantage of those facilities.

If history is any guide, a few of the kids playing pickup soccer in Washington today will wind up playing in a future World Cup.

Read the full story on Gov. Jay Inslee's Medium.

Gov. Jay Inslee and other leaders stand in a group above the Seattle skyline holding a World Cup flag.