WASHINGTON (TIP): US President Barack Obama showered praises on US Soccer Federation’s (USSF) Indian-American President Sunil Gulati as he welcomed the triumphant American women’s World Cup team to the White House to celebrate their victory after 16 long years on Tuesday, Oct 27.

“I want to recognize a lot of people who made these incredibly talented women – put them in a position to be able to showcase their talent so effectively. First of all, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. Please give him a big round of applause,” Obama said, according to a press release.

The US women’s soccer team, after a devastating loss in 2011 at the hands of Japan, dominated the World Cup final this year as it defeated Japan by 5-2.

All 23 players, coaches and backroom staff filed in to the East Room, greeted by a loud ovation from the invited guests. Obama was joined by vice-president Joe Biden, Gulati and a 13-year-old girl Ayla from Massachusetts.

Ayla shared a letter she wrote to President and the first lady towards the end of Canada 2015 with the crowd, explaining her anger after her brother told her that ‘boys are so much better at soccer than girls’, and that she wanted the White House’s help to prove him wrong.

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Obama hailed young Ayla’s courage and used her letter to frame his congratulatory remarks to the recent Women’s World Cup champions.

“Girls like Ayla (were told that) they weren’t somehow supposed to be as good at sports as boys. And Ayla got mad, and she should be mad with those attitudes.

“These champions deserve all the attention that they’ve been getting. After 16 long years, too much heartbreak, they flew north to put America back on top of the soccer world. And they did it in style. It was a victory that took all 23 players. It took Christie Rampone’s leadership, Alex Morgan’s playmaking, Heather O’Reilly’s game face. It took Becky Sauerbrunn’s quiet dominance. And Abby Wambach’s not-so-quiet dominance,” said Obama.

Sunil Gulati was unanimously re-elected to a record third four-year term as United States Soccer Federation president in March 2014.

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