Tobin Heath believes the United States Women’s World Cup win over the Netherlands can be a springboard for their equal pay fight.
After the USA emerged 2-0 winners in Lyon, large parts of the stadium could be heard chanting ‘equal pay’, something which followed the booing of FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
And Heath, who started six of her country’s games as she claimed her second World Cup title, is excited about what comes next.
“ We’ve been fighting for this for a long time as a team and to be on this platform on the world stage and to hear the stadium chanting for it, it was a really, really powerful moment,” the winger said.
“I hope that causes change. It’s really cool to be not just winning and fighting for things on the field, but fighting for things off the field and doing so in a way through sport I think is really powerful.
“I think it’s just the start of something massive and culture-changing.
“Unless we get to the final and obviously win the final, maybe that chant isn’t being chanted.
“So I think in a lot of ways, this team has been kind of, I guess you could call it synchro-destiny with this fight for equal pay and I think it’s our responsibility and it’s something that we love to do.”
Heath’s international team-mate Megan Rapinoe has been at the forefront of the push for change, with the fight for equal pay just one thing she has been very vocal about.
Some worried the non-football related headlines she was grabbing could have a negative impact on this team, as they aimed to pick up back-to-back World Cup titles.
But it certainly didn’t, and it didn’t affect Rapinoe either, who won both the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball for her efforts on the pitch.
“We’ve got to celebrate these great, great sports moments and she had a fantastic tournament. She’s an incredible player,” Heath said.
“Alex [Morgan] had a fantastic tournament, Rose [Lavelle] had a fantastic tournament.
“It’s these special moments that only the World Cup brings around so we didn’t need to celebrate our teammates, they did wonderful.”
Speaking more about Rapinoe’s impact, the 31-year-old said: “She’s a fantastic leader for us both on and off the field and I think she’s really led with a lot of grace and by action too.
“It’s not easy to speak up and then also to follow it up by action but she’s done it so well, especially in this tournament, to stay focused and motivated at the task at hand but also be fighting a parallel fight as well.
“It’s kind of synonymous with the US women’s national team, you know.
“We fight to win games and we fight for things off the field too. But to see the momentum that this tournament has kind of pushed forth with all of those is just fantastic.”
The victory also answered a lot of critics who questioned coach Jill Ellis and also the team, particularly after they crashed out of the 2016 Olympics in the quarter-finals, losing on penalties to Sweden.
“To be able to say [we are] world champions, I think [that] is the only thing that you can say against critics in a lot of ways,” Heath added.
“This team has been through so much, from 2015 to 2016 to now.
“It’s incredible and it speaks volumes to this group and to kind of the resilience of this group and the players that have been a big part of the last however many years in order to bring this team and keep this team at the top.
“It’s not easy, especially in this generation of football where more and more teams are competitive. You saw this in the tournament.
“For us to still remain where we are I think is a testament to the determination and the hard work that goes in every single day with these players and with the staff.”