PUMA Women's Summit 2019
Imran Gulmohammad

GESM On-the-Ground: PUMA’s Women’s Summit

This past weekend, PUMA hosted 20 female youth soccer players and 20 youth soccer coaches from across the United States for a Women’s Summit in New York City. We were lucky enough to be on the ground helping PUMA manage the event that also featured U.S. Women’s National Team players Sam Mewis and Abby Dahlkemper, as well as SoccerGrlProbs.

A truly New York experience

After players and coaches arrived Friday night, Saturday kickstarted the weekend’s festivities. The mission – give the coaches and players a true New York City experience. What better place to start the weekend than the PUMA Showroom where the apparel brand showcases their latest product for retailers. For many, this weekend was their first time in the Big Apple, so we took the scenic route to the PUMA Showroom, passing the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, and more along the way.

Upon arriving, in every direction the group looked they were welcomed with stunning photos of PUMA athletes and important moments in PUMA history. Each room was littered with the latest and greatest designs from PUMA, most of which is currently unreleased to the public. Once everyone was settled in, PUMA showed two welcome videos before SoccerGrlProbs welcomed the group with opening remarks, highlighting a series of surprises for the group from PUMA. The first surprise – a scavenger hunt in New York City led by Sam Mewis and Abby Dahlkemper. The group was divided in half and was assigned a team, either Team Sam or Team Abby.

The hunt started at the PUMA Showroom and ended in the new PUMA Flagship Store on 5th Avenue. The goal of the scavenger hunt was to break the players out of their shells and give the players a chance spend time with their captains. Teams adventured through Times Square and Bryant Park taking pictures and collecting random items in hopes of winning. When the teams reached the PUMA Flagship Store, PUMA presented both teams and the coaches with gift cards for a shopping spree. Only one team could be declared the true winner, however, and the honor went to Sam Mewis and her team.

After a short stop for dinner at Urban Space, the coaches were freed to explore New York City on their own. The players were taken ice skating at one of the most iconic ice-skating rinks, Bryant Park.

A day of learning and inspiration

If Saturday was mostly about having fun and allowing players and coaches the chance to get to know each other, Sunday was about learning and growing as individuals. Throughout the day, the team participated in several panels that highlighted fitness, college recruiting, and life after soccer.

The day began with an exercise session with Amber Rees and Lindsey Clayton, cofounders of the Brave Body Project whose goal is to build a community of women who support each other. The workout focused on strength, stamina balance, and coordination. After the workout, Amber and Lindsey led a panel focused on the importance of striving towards your fitness goals, uplifting each other, and loving the body your in.

The second panel featured David Robertson, Bob Jenkins, and U.S. Soccer legend April Heinrichs who discussed the actions needed to play soccer in college and how to properly communicate with scouts. This was a valuable panel for a lot of the players and coaches. Coaches learned how to reach out to scouts and help the players to the best of their ability.

Former U.S. Women’s National Team player Leslie Osborne led the third panel, during which she opened up to the group about her soccer injuries and how they affected her life. I think the most important lesson the players took from Leslie Osborne’s discussion was that there is a life after soccer and soccer can open doors to other amazing opportunities.

For the last panel session players were once again split into their scavenger hunt teams. One panel featured SoccerGrlProbs who discussed how the three went from being friends who played soccer to launching and building a digital brand. For them, the key was setting a goal. They stressed dreaming big and setting a goal, then working backwards to establish the steps to achieve the group. Each player received a goal achieving notebook to help them keep track of their future goals.

The other panel was a PUMA focus group where two PUMA representatives brought different unreleased products to share with the players and gather feedback. Players were honest in their feedback and expressed their excitement and doubts about certain products. To get that feedback directly from your target market is obviously very valuable.

The weekend ended with closing remark from SoccerGrlProbs recapping the weekend. They passed out Sam Mewis and Abby Dahlkemper autographed soccer balls to each player. Prior to getting the ball each player had to discuss their favorite part of the weekend. Among the more popular answers were the scavenger hunt, the flagship experience, ice skating, the focus group, and making new friends. Before the weekend wrapped up, PUMA surprised the players with brand new boots.

Many coaches expressed their favorite part was the bonds they formed with other coaches. It was evident that players had also formed strong bonds as well. This event laid a solid foundation for a strong customer base moving forward and we were happy to be on hand to see it all come together!

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