U.S. Women’s Soccer Hopes These Charming Animated Videos Will Keep Fans Interested After the Olympics

Get to know the players

The U.S. Women's Soccer team thrilled fans last year with its epic World Cup win, and it's set to do it again starting next week at the 2016 Olympics. Last week, U.S. Soccer launched an animated video series to fire people up to watch the team compete for its fourth consecutive gold medal in Rio and to keep fans tuned into the sport beyond major tournaments like the World Cup and Olympics.

The videos, produced by U.S. Soccer and animated by Calabash Animation studios in Chicago, appear on U.S. Soccer's website and YouTube channel and feature the 18 players from the 2016 Olympic team and coach Jill Ellis.

Each video includes a story from a player's past about her journey to the Olympic team. For instance, Megan Rapinoe talks about the childhood bond she shares with her twin sister; Crystal Dunn discusses how she overcame her anxieties about being short as a young soccer player; and Meghan Klingenberg talks about her college soccer team's successful attempt to break in to a late night basketball event at the University of North Carolina.

Ahead of the men's World Cup in 2014 and women's World Cup in 2015, U.S. Soccer launched efforts like this one to increase engagement with casual soccer fans, including a video series called 23 Stories, which focused on the background of each player on the men's and women's national teams.

"We have so many die-hard fans, but during the World Cup and Olympics, we have more of what we call a red-white-and-blue fan. Patriotism plays a big part [in the reason they watch]," said Neil Buethe, U.S. Soccer's director of communications. "They may not know as much about the team and the players, so we wanted to introduce players to those new fans in an entertaining way. For the Olympics, we wanted to make that connection again."

"All of the players have great personalities, and they're always sharing stories about how they got to the national team: stories from the road; stories with their teammates," Buethe added. "The videos allow the fans who maybe didn't even tune in to the World Cup last year to get excited about the Olympics and get to know these women who have captivated the nation."

U.S. Soccer's ultimate goal is to keep enthusiasm for soccer high beyond the sport's major tournaments.

"We're always trying to get those fans tuning in for the first time to follow the sport throughout the years through the leagues around the country," Buethe said. "Campaigns like this also help inspire young players to be where those national team players are now."