WAGS Tournament: Omega Select (Kan.) make a statement with tropical uniforms
ARLINGTON, Va. – Many players like to flash a few bright colors here and there during match play, whether through a pair of the luminous neon cleats that have now in vogue or perhaps pink headbands like the ones made famous by U.S. Women’s National Team star Alex Morgan.
Omega Select U15G Black are taking that concept to another level entirely.
Their splashy orange-and-pink jerseys lit up a largely drab scene dominated by heavy cloud banks at Long Bridge Park on Saturday afternoon, giving their evenly-balanced 2-2 WAGS Tournament Under-15 division draw with North Carolina side Greensboro United SA 98 Navy a bit of tropical flair.
Coach Gaspard D’Alexis hails from Haiti, which might seem like explanation enough for the use of such a Caribbean-inflected color scheme. But to hear him tell it, it’s much more than just fashion choices at work.
“We are trying to be unique,” he told SoccerWire.com. “When you look at all the teams, they have no colors except the white, the black. Also, you’re trying to give them a sense of ‘I’m doing my own thing.’ Because what happens with young girls in high school and college – even in life – there are sometimes people showing them something: ‘If I do it, you have to do it, too.’
D’Alexis has the shirts custom-made for his club, which is itself a fairly unconventional creature based in Kansas, but featuring players from all over the country who gather for showcase tournaments, usually training together for just a day or two before match play.
“The uniform, when you have it every day, it will remind you,” he said. “Today this other team said, ‘Hey, they are cool, we’d like to have one like that’ – we say ‘Uh uh, you cannot buy it anywhere. It’s our colors!’
The sherbet-tinged look may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but D’Alexis is using it to craft a valuable point to his young squad – this U-15 team features six underage players, including one pint-sized starter in midfield named Gina Favero who just turned 12 – and he said they’ve received plenty of compliments.
“Even the younger girls, they are so proud of themselves walking to a place knowing that ‘No one is wearing our uniform.’ So that same girl, in high school she can say ‘no’ to the bad things, the drinking, the drugs. That’s what we’re trying to do for them. And the parents will tell me stories, like, ‘Her friend wants to do this thing and she said no, I don’t have to do it.’
“To make them understand that you don’t need to be like the other person to feel good about yourself.”