Brandi Mitchell is the founder of San Diego Soccer Women. Positioned as an advocate for “play at every age,” Brandi is connecting and expanding the global community of age 30 and older recreational female soccer players of every ability level.

At age 47, Brandi plays in several women’s 11-a-side leagues and a friendly men’s pickup group in San Diego, California. She travels the world joining in both standard and walking soccer tournaments for ages 40 and older, as well as organizing international “Soccer Women” trips. Brandi completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduate coursework in International Policy Studies and French at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. Her professional work is focused on supporting the accounting, administrative and communication operations of her small business and nonprofit clients.


What is your mission ?

My number one goal is to increase opportunities for older women, mainly ages 30 to over 70, to join, continue or return to recreational soccer. I want women to kick down the imagined boundaries of age and gender! San Diego Soccer Women creates recreational soccer events, training, social media, travel programs, email newsletters and website content that aim to connect women with the resources they need to PLAY, whether it be a list of local leagues, a global tournament directory, ideas for charitable giving or links to female-focused soccer gear.

Why is this so important?

The physical, mental, economic and emotional health of older women relies on positive relationships with our own bodies – which means pushing back against generations of social messaging that we are never shaped, dressed or acting the way we “should” in the eyes of others. Playing soccer, or any high-intensity sport, not only releases endorphins, strengthens our muscles, builds stronger bones and increases flexibility, it also redefines the purpose of our bodies. We aren’t on the field to be objects of attention! We are competing in a game that requires our best effort at speed, agility, movement, strategy and strength. All those benefits PLUS we have an entire community of like-minded female soccer athletes sharing life stories and supporting one another through the everyday challenges of life.

What changes do you see with the women joining ?

Through my women’s beginner soccer training programs, I’ve seen the smiles and laughter of women over 60 years old who just purchased their very first pieces of sporting equipment, cleats and shin guards, and geared up to play in weekly sessions. Such joy! It’s a similar experience for women who used to play at high levels, such as competitive club and college soccer. With the demands of caregiving that generally fall on women, whether for parents, partners, children, pets or friends, it’s common for players to stop playing sports in their early twenties and not return to the game until their forties. There’s no question that the reconnection with the sport they love brings an incredible revival of energy and self-confidence.

What would you consider your biggest achievement so far with the mission ?

The most unexpected and memorable achievement was taking a group of women, ages 41 to 77, to the famous Henningsvaer soccer field in Lofoten, Northern Norway after having been invited to visit by a local photographer who was a board member for the youth club that played there. In a whirlwind 5 months in 2018, I convinced a team of recreational women players to clear their calendars for 10 days that summer and trust that I could arrange the trip to this dreamy, but somewhat complicated, travel destination. Most of them had never met each other – and some had never met me! The trip was absolutely amazing and included being featured on the FIFA Women’s World Cup social media, a meeting with the Prime Minister of Norway, a private gathering with a US Embassy Officer in Oslo, speaking at a workshop about gender equality at a large youth tournament and, of course, playing soccer with new friends on one of the most scenic pitches on Earth. Credit also belongs to the partnerships I was lucky to make with the women of the Global Goals World Cup, the United Nations Association in San Diego and community members in Lofoten.


How can people start at home/ within their community ? What are your tips ?

It’s not easy to train for soccer alone or to play with adult teams that are significantly above or below your playing level. Search online and in social media groups for adult soccer leagues and meetups for active women. Women may need to join together to organize weekly gatherings at local parks – you just need cones and a couple of balls to get some training in! I recommend checking with municipal park and recreation departments, fitness centers and YMCA offices and youth soccer leagues for opportunities to reserve time on the pitch. Many of the leagues in the United States, such as the ones in Southern California, were founded in the 1970s by players in their twenties and thirties. Before I was even born, women (and men) fought for the future generations of girls and women to take their space in the sport. Now, we each need to do our part. Older women have every right to PLAY as the youth and men in their communities!

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