NJ/NY Gotham FC president: 2023 is year of the female athlete
The president of the NJ/NY Gotham Football Club says that 2023 is the year of the female athlete.
“The entire game of women’s soccer is growing globally at the same time that women’s sports are being lifted across the United States and beyond,” Mary Wittenberg told News 12 at the NJ/NY Gotham FC training facility in Whippany, New Jersey. “This is an incredible time full of momentum, especially for our team at home in New York and New Jersey.”
The newly minted president – a champion runner herself – isn’t kidding. Six of her team’s players just returned from the World Cup. But top talent doesn’t always translate into ticket sales, as Gotham FC remains relatively unknown in the tri-state area.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t realize we have this world-class team with this really uniquely Gotham vibe and spirit in their backyard,” Wittenberg said.
Luckily, Wittenberg has a knack for making local mainstream – she's credited with turning the New York City Marathon into one of the most recognized road races in the world.
“The game is really rising – the player caliber is so high,” she said of Gotham FC. “The fandom is growing, we are such early days in commercial impact, there is so much opportunity to partner with incredible brands who want to fund the effort, but also market, because part of this game is getting more people out and exposing people to these incredible athletes.”
Wittenberg says there’s already interest in Gotham FC from investors and media partners, but she says the real commodity is community.
“Our chance is to actually embrace fans from throughout our area and well beyond to come be a part of building this team.”
And building up a women’s team is something that gives Wittenberg’s heart wings. When she was the race director for the New York City Marathon, the women’s cash prize was higher than the men's. And although she says all genders are welcome to work at Gotham FC, she’s leading an all-female leadership team.
“Lifting women is so important to me because, since my earliest days as a lawyer, I often was a first. I ran on the men’s cross country team in law school...as a young lawyer, I was the first woman in a deal-oriented practice, and so sport I see once you can give people and women the chance to be part – just give them equal access and recognize the need for more equity for women, women can thrive,” she said.
Gotham FC has even more changes in the works. They just announced on Wednesday that Spanish World Cup star, Esther Gonzales, will be joining the team. Gonzales will make her team debut this season.