Women’s Independent Soccer League (WISL), the recently announced Division II women’s professional league today released the vision, mission and pillars that will serve as the cultural foundation of the new league. The league is applying for U.S. Soccer sanctioning in spring 2023 and launching play in spring of 2024.
WISL is a mission-driven organization, so it needed to ensure staff, partners, investors, clubs, communities, players, coaches and fans all are clear from the very beginning on what they are creating together. WISL started with its ‘why,’ and it led directly to how to make it concrete. “Our seven pillars will collectively be our north star,” says WISL Managing Director Lynn Berling- Manuel, originally retained by the league early in 2022 to serve as an advisor in the strategic development of WISL’s culture and ethos.
A leadership team from within the WISL organization including Chief Marketing Officer Samantha Prutch, Culture & Education Director Alexa Doebler, and Social/Digital Media Director Jennie Patel worked with her to develop the framework and detail. Berling-Manuel then asked a select group of senior women soccer leaders to vet and provide recommendations.
“These seven pillars speak directly to our commitment to providing a safe and strong environment, deep community engagement, the room for mental wellness, parent forward policies, a lens of sustainability and DEI benchmarks across the league,” says Doebler. Seven Pillars Will Guide League Development and Operations
To offer a women-driven professional Division II league that helps connect the soccer pathway for women players to the highest professional opportunities in a culture of empowerment, inclusivity and community engagement.
As a Division II professional women’s soccer league of global-standard independent soccer clubs, WISL celebrates a sense of place for every team, player and fan. We embrace our communities as engaged neighbors. We provide inclusive, safe opportunities for hundreds of young women every season to play professional soccer in towns and cities across America with each club celebrating with their fans what makes their home unique and special. For every player, coach and staff member, WISL clubs will be a professional home that supports their well-being as a whole person.
1. SAFE & STRONG:
WISL provides a safe environment for every player, coach and staff including a confidential reporting hotline focused on clear and consistent follow-up, communication and action. WISL has zero tolerance for improprieties of any kind – whether from a position of power or from a position of difference.
2. DIVERISTY RULE:
To ensure and promote diversity, equity and inclusion from the pitch to the executive offices, WISL and every club will interview a minimum of two external female and/or minority qualified candidates for any open position. For every new parent, WISL offers paid parental leave for all club and league personnel. Coaches will make good faith return-to-roster opportunities for players who use this benefit.
3. PARENT FORWARD:
For every new parent, WISL offers paid parental leave for all club and league personnel. Coaches will make good faith return-to-roster opportunities for players who use this benefit.
4. EQUITY LEADERS:
An Equity Council will be charged to review, recommend and report on WISL’s and its clubs’ commitment to ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion. The EC will be transparent and unsparing in spotlighting shortcomings, operationalizing solutions, and honoring successes. It will be composed equally of players, coaches, management and owners representing all WISL clubs.
5. EDUCATION PROMISE:
WISL offers continuing education for its players in developing their career and post-career opportunities, as well as its coaches in elevating their skills in the coaching of women athletes.
6. MENTAL WELLNESS:
Mental health care and recovery are treated with the same seriousness and support as physical health care and recovery. The mental wellness of players, coaches and staff is the responsibility of the entire WISL family.
WISL and its clubs use the lens of environmental impact in daily decisions and practices to be valuable sustainability partners with their communities.
“We want to collaborate and cooperate with our Division I, amateur, and European colleagues to all help grow the women’s game,” Berling-Manuel says.
WISL is applying to the United States Soccer Federation for Division II sanctioning, targeting 2024 for its inaugural season. WISL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Equality Football and is not affiliated with the World Surfing League (WSL). Discover more about WISL at WISLeague.com, as well as on Instagram and Facebook (@WISLeague) and Twitter (@WISL_League).