During the 2019 Oscars, Nike debuted an ad titled “Dream Crazier” featuring some of the best female athletes of all time such as Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Chloe Kim and Becky Hammon, to name a few. But perhaps less well known was a young soccer player shown toward the end of the ad. Young soccer prodigy Olivia Moultrie was featured in this commercial after signing a multiyear endorsement deal with Nike at just 13 years old. She had previously made history when she became the youngest female soccer player to publicly accept a college soccer scholarship. She was only 11 when she received an offer from the University of North Carolina (UNC), where soccer legend Mia Hamm went, and has just become the youngest female player to ascend to the professional ranks.
By signing this deal, Moultrie has surrendered her high school and youth club eligibility, but these goals have long been left in the dust. Moultrie began training at age seven when her parents signed her up for a local soccer academy that specialized in individual drills and agility and became homeschooled in fifth grade to free her schedule for more soccer practice. In an interview with Urban Pitch, Moultrie said, “I really became passionate about soccer when my dad and I made the decision to start working as hard as I do now … When I started treating every day like an opportunity and training to be a professional, I really fell in love with the process of trying to become great.” She has since become the first girl to play on a boy’s soccer team at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and trained in Europe’s leagues with Bayern Munich in Germany and Olympique Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain in France.
At this point, the only thing holding her back is her age. Both the National Women’s Soccer League and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) require their athletes to be at least 18 years old in order to play, so for now Moultrie will head to Oregon to train as a developmental player for the Portland Thorns, a branch of the National Women’s Soccer League. Her father is happy with this decision and told the New York Times that, “For literally almost every kid in girls’ soccer, you should go to college; there’s not a million dollars at the end of the rainbow. I think if you’re truly, truly elite, if your goal is to be a world-class player and a pro and, in Olivia’s case, to be the best player in the world, there’s no way it’s better to play college than it is to play full time.”
Moultrie also signed with the Wasserman Media Group, a sports agency, and her agent, Spencer Wadsworth gave few details about her Nike deal. However, he did reveal that the deal was worth more than the value of a four-year scholarship at a top-tier school such as UNC. He also acknowledged how she is evening the playing field with boys’ soccer leagues, who have had a few players turn pro at such a young age. “It’s just a shift in women’s sports,” said Wadsworth, “you see it more and more now where women’s soccer is catching up to the men’s side, and there’s more opportunities for them.” Wadsworth will assist Moultrie in her blossoming career as she takes the next steps to become the youngest female professional soccer player.