Full Text Obama Presidency May 15, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Congratulating the 2011 Major League Soccer Cup Championship the LA Galaxy at the White House — President Obama Teases Star Player David Beckham



President Obama Congratulates the LA Galaxy

Source: WH, 5-15-12
President Barack Obama Welcomes Major League Soccer Champions, the LA Galaxy
President Barack Obama welcomes Major League Soccer champions, the LA Galaxy, to honor their 2011 season and their MLS Cup victory, to the East Room of the White House, May 15, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama welcomed the LA Galaxy to the White House this afternoon to congratulate the team on its 2011 Major League Soccer Cup Championship.

The team, which has three of soccer’s biggest stars on its roster– David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and Robbie Keane–won a tough championship match after going undefeated at home all season long.

“So everyone who’s a part of this club — the staff, the players, the fans back in L.A. — together you pulled off one of the toughest feats in team sports:  You lived up to the hype.  You combined star power, hard work; it paid off,” President Obama said.

After the ceremony in the East Room, the team took questions from young soccer players as part of a Let’s Move! event encouraging kids to take up sports as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.


Remarks by the President Honoring the 2011 MLS Cup Champion L.A. Galaxy

East Room

2:12 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Well, welcome to the White House, everybody.  And congratulations to the L.A. Galaxy on your third MLS Cup.  (Applause.)  Number three.

Before we start, I want to acknowledge an L.A. native and my outstanding Secretary of Labor — I don’t know how her game is, but she’s a fan.  Hilda Solis is here.  (Applause.)  We’ve got some proud members of the California delegation, the House of Representatives who are here.  We’re thrilled to have them.

I’m not going to flatter myself by assuming these cameras are for me.  (Laughter.)  I want to thank the Galaxy for letting me share in the spotlight.  (Laughter.)  The truth is, in America, most professional soccer players have the luxury of being able to walk around without being recognized.  But not these guys.  This is the Miami Heat of soccer.  (Laughter.)  And together, they represent one of the most talented lineups that MLS has ever seen.

You’ve got Robbie Keane, all-time leading scorer of the Irish national team.  (Applause.)  Cousin of mine.  (Laughter.)  Robbie arrived halfway through last season, scored his first goal in the first 21 minutes of his first game.  His teammates were so happy to have him that they filled his locker with what they called the “pleasures of Ireland” — Guinness, Bailey’s, and Irish Spring.  (Laughter.)  Hopefully Robbie has broadened their horizons a little bit since then.

We also have a young up-and-comer on the team, a guy named David Beckham.  (Laughter.)  I have to say I gave David a hard time — I said half his teammates could be his kids.  (Laughter.) We’re getting old, David.  Although you’re holding up better than me.  (Laughter.)

Last year, at the age of 36, David had his best year in MLS, leading the team with 15 assists.  He did it despite fracturing his spine halfway through the season, injuring his hamstring the week before the championship game.  He is tough.  In fact, it is a rare man who can be that tough on the field and also have his own line of underwear.  (Laughter.)  David Beckham is that man.  (Laughter.)

And then there’s the captain, Landon Donovan — (applause)  — who has done more for American soccer than just about anybody. Landon’s eye for the net, his will to win are legendary, and once again, he stepped up when his teammates needed him most.

After going undefeated at home last season, the Galaxy was struggling in the cold and rainy championship match.  But then, in the 72nd minute, David headed the ball to Robbie, who made a perfect pass to Landon, who chipped in the game-winner.  And that set off an all-night celebration in L.A. — although my understanding is that David had to get up for carpool duty at 8 a.m. — (laughter) — so his day was ending a little early.

So the big names came through in the clutch, but they didn’t do it alone.  For a group with so much firepower, this team shone on defense, recording 17 shutouts.  They were led by two local guys — Omar Gonzalez — give it up — (applause) — and      A.J. DeLaGarza — (applause) — who won a national championship at Maryland.  Now they’ve got another title to their resumes.

And of course a lot of credit goes to Coach Bruce Arena.  He took this team from worst to first in just four years.  And I want to take this opportunity to apologize to Bruce.  When I called to congratulate him on winning the Cup, the team was in Indonesia; it was in the middle of the night.  Thank you for taking my call and acting like you actually wanted to talk to me. (Laughter.)

So everyone who’s a part of this club — the staff, the players, the fans back in L.A. — together you pulled off one of the toughest feats in team sports:  You lived up to the hype.  You combined star power, hard work; it paid off.  And I also want to thank you for doing a little Q&A with some of the younger players after we’re done.  As a soccer dad, I know you’ve inspired a lot of kids.  And today you’re giving them an experience that they will never forget.

So, again, give a big round of applause to the L.A. Galaxy.  (Applause.)  Congratulations.  Best of luck this season.  (Applause.)

2:20 P.M. EDT

Remarks by the First Lady at a Let’s Move! Event with MLS Cup Champion L.A. Galaxy

State Dining Room

3:12 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Hey, again, guys.  I got to hang out with the kids earlier.  We got quick pictures, but we are excited to have you guys here at the White House.  We’re in the State Room.  The State Dining Room is where we greet special official guests, and you guys count as our special official guests.  We’re excited to have you here.

I want to start by thanking all of you kids for joining us here at the White House today.  Tell me — yell out — tell me the organizations you’re representing — somebody?  See, you guys are from all over the place — some here, some from all over the country, right?

Well, thanks for coming and visiting us.  I also want to thank the members of the L.A. Galaxy soccer team for taking the time to come and answer some questions, and share some wisdom and some advice for all of you.  So let’s give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

So as soccer players, you know who these guys are, don’t you?


MRS. OBAMA:  They’re pretty cool, right?  They are some of the best soccer players in the entire country and the entire world.  Amazing, huh?  And they’re here!  They’re right there, they’re right there.

And I want to congratulate them — join in with my husband in congratulating them on winning the third MLS Cup.  Very cool, very cool.

But one of the things I want you guys to remember — all the kids here to remember, is that these stars were not born superstar athletes.  They weren’t superstar soccer players from the beginning.  In fact, many of them started out just like many of you — playing on a team at school, or just kicking a ball around on the playground with their friends.  But they stuck with it.  And I tell this to my girls all the time.  I mean, you get to the point when there are things that you enjoy, they get to the point where they start getting hard — that’s when you know you’re getting good, and you have to stick through it even when it starts getting hard.

For some of you, soccer has always been fun, will always be fun, but sometimes, when you start growing, you get to the point where you really have to work hard.  Well, they all hit that wall, and they stuck with it.  They practice for hours every day doing all their drills and scrimmages, doing everything that their coaches and mentors told them to do.  And that’s how they got to be national champions.  But remember, they didn’t do all of this just because they wanted to win their games.  Winning is great, right?  We all know how to win.  Winning is the easiest thing in the world to do.  But what is the toughest thing?  Is learning how to lose, right?

So they didn’t do it just to win.  They didn’t do it because they wanted to grow up to be famous.  They played soccer because they love the sport.  And they played because it was challenging and fun, and because it made they feel strong and healthy.  And that’s what sports like soccer are all about.  And they’re learning about new skills.  They’re learning how to compete.  They’re learning how to lose gracefully, how to win with dignity.  All of that stuff is important with sports.

And that’s one of the reasons why when the weather is nice — because it was raining; we were supposed to be outside, but they said there were would be thunderstorms.  We’re usually outside.  We’ve been hosting all kinds of fitness activities and clinics on the South Lawn.  Have some of you guys participated in those?  Nobody has had — I thought — we’ve had — (laughter) — yes, we’ve had some fun on the South Lawn.  We were supposed out there today, but because they projected thunderstorms, we thought we wouldn’t have you out there getting struck by lightning.  That wouldn’t look good.  (Laughter.)  So we brought you inside.

But we’ve been hosting these clinics on the South Lawn, which is our backyard here at the White House, because we want to show kids just like you that there are all kinds of ways to be active, and that being active is also a whole lot of fun.  So a lot of what we do while there are soccer drills and things like that going on, we’re doing a lot of playing around and laughing, and realizing that that’s what being healthy is about.  It’s not always work; most of the time it’s a lot of fun.

And that’s also why in connection with the Olympic and Paralympic Games that are coming up — you guys know about that?  You know that we’re going to be in London competing with teams all across the world.  You know that?  And I’m going to be leading the delegation.  I’m not playing a sport or anything — (laughter) — I am not an Olympian.  But I get to lead the delegation that represents the United States.

But as part of the Olympic Games, the U.S. Soccer Federation has made a really important commitment that I got to announce yesterday.  They’re going to be working to help increase opportunities for kids to get involved in a whole variety of sports, especially soccer.  Soccer has really stepped up.

They’re going to be hosting more clinics and more after-school programs in cities all across the country so that more kids like you get exposure to opportunities that maybe normally you wouldn’t, or it gives you even a little more excitement to get even more committed into your sport.

Because the Federation also knows and these guys up here know that being active and learning new skills doesn’t just help you become a better soccer player or a better athlete.  It gives you the energy that you need to keep you from getting sick, to do well in school, to be able to focus on your bigger dreams — because there is life after soccer.  There is something more important than sports, and that’s becoming a well-rounded person.

And being healthy and eating the right foods, and staying active is a part of that.  And that’s what everybody here is trying to promote.  And that’s why I’m so pleased with our U.S. Olympic Federation and all the teams that have made a commitment to invest in kids like you across the country.

So that’s one of the reasons why we’re here.  But we’re also here because this team, these guys, they wanted to talk to you.  They’re here because they were getting congratulations from the President, but they also said they wanted to talk to kids just like you.  And I’m really pleased that you guys are so interested in taking the time not just to play the game but to spend time with young people, talking to them about a whole range of things.  So they are here for you.

And I’m going to leave and let them step up.  But feel free to ask them any kind of questions.  And I’ve already talked to you all — you all are not shy.  None of them are.  Right?  So speak up, ask questions.  Ask about anything you have on your mind.  Don’t be nervous.  You’re at home.  And have fun, okay?  And keep playing hard, working hard, doing well in school, and eat your vegetables.  (Laughter.)  All right?

All right, I’m going to get out of here and let these guys take over.  Thanks so much.  (Applause.)

3:19 P.M. EDT

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