Imagine you are in a foreign country, with no money, no family, and only a soccer ball at your feet. Well, that was me back in 2016. Hi, I’m Natalie Brandon, founder and CEO of United Strikers Football and Empowerment Academy, former football player (striker), professional coach, and leader of young women. This is my story.
I decided that I was going to build the life I wanted and not the life that others told me I should live. After playing in The Chelsea U19 Ladies Academy and Newcastle United FC in the Women's Premier League, I got into coaching and started to coach for a youth program at Leicester City FC youth academy for both girls and boy's teams. I then helped
coach The Kingsbury Ladies and lead technical sessions around the Birmingham and Tamworth area in the UK. I felt it was time to start fresh in America. My original plan was to come and play college soccer here in the USA, I was offered lots of scholarships at top schools across the country. Unfortunately, even with these scholarships I could not afford to attend college here. Ever since being inspired by the movie “Bend It Like Beckham” at the age of 4, I knew I would make a new beginning in the US. It was always a dream to come over to this country. Without college I knew one option left that would allow me to continue to pursue my passion of Football, I was going to come here to coach. I have been very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to coach across 20+ different states, worked with children aged 2 - 18 years old from all different backgrounds and ethnicities. Through coaching I was able to give players a piece of myself, whether it was passing on a skill or passing on an empowered mindset. The deeper I jumped into my coaching career, the more I noticed the positive impact I had on young players, especially young girls.
Working as a visa employee here in the US, often not knowing where I was going to sleep the next night, living paycheck to paycheck and being undervalued was a challenge. I never lost sight of my own value and never lost my self-worth. I knew my goals and the direction I needed to go in order to be able to achieve them. From a young age I knew that my life was going to be able to meet my aspirations through being entrepreneurial and developing the right mindset. I was fortunate to gain many new friends, mentors and people I now class as my 'American Family', along my journey. And in turn, I’ve been able to lead and inspire those who have come across my path. Through all my struggles I learned some things: Women are tough, Women are very strong, and Women can persevere through greater challenges than they ever thought they could. Women can achieve anything that they want if they have enough confidence and belief in themselves. Through entrepreneurship I aim to inspire and lead women around me the same way I was able to on and off the pitch.