Brianna Visalli - West Ham United
My name is Brianna Visalli, or "Bri." I am from California, but I currently live in England as a professional footballer. My journey here started a little less than a year ago when Matt Beard at West Ham called me. I fell in love with the idea of playing my first year as a professional footballer in London, and I haven't looked back since.
Who is in the photos? Where were the photos taken?
In the photos you'll find West Ham United Women. You'll see players in their more comfortable "self" and from the perspective of the player. The photos were taken at the training grounds, on the bus, and even in the hotels. A lot of social media capture the player from an outsiders perspective, but in this collection, hopefully you'll see some of the amazing personalities that I have had the pleasure of working with over this past year.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning with any of the photos?
I tried to show how awesome we are as individuals and hopefully everyone can see the person rather than the player.
What is your favourite photo? Why?
On the bus - one reason being that everyone is pictured together, and two you can see everyone either smiling or goofing off. I also think that the bus captures players in a state where they're most comfortable and from the perspective of what I see on a daily basis.
What has been your football journey up until now?
My football journey has been riddled with ups and downs and mostly being told "no." I started playing "soccer" when I was a 4-year old in the church league. My dad (who was my coach) would later joke that I was his "star defender" as I picked daisies with the opposition forward. I don't think soccer clicked as something I wanted to pursue until I was in grade 6. I loved playing with my friends and was always really competitive and wanted to be the best at whatever I did. That being said, I was always told that I was not going to make it to the next stage in my career, whether that was high school, club, college, or professional. It can be extremely frustrating to be written off at face value, so I have always worked really hard. I think the best time in my career was when I was called into USWNT U23 camp, and I was able to be in a top-notch environment - something I felt so fortunate to experience. The only other comparable feeling to playing for your country was probably the FA Cup.
Are there any good stories connected with the people you photographed?
Tessel and Alisha are pictured after the pre-game walk. Everyone was in a great mood and we had a few cars honk their horn and shout, "Come on you Irons!" from the window of their car.
What are the biggest changes happening at the moment in women's football?
Right now women's football is experiencing growth in media coverage and money, but that's not to say that we are anywhere near the men, nor are we where we need to be as a whole. That being said, there are awesome opportunities like this one where the players are being highlighted. It's amazing that there is not only growth in the game as a whole, but also general interest in media coverage.
What does football mean to you? Do you have a message for the next generation of young female footballers?
Football has caused me to sacrifice almost everything. I moved thousands of miles away from home and rarely see my family, which is very important to me. That being said, football has been worth every long flight, late-night call, and sometimes missed family party. So my advice to young footballers would be to always keep pushing, but make sure you REALLY REALLY REALLY love football because there will be days when you question "why" you are exactly fighting for something. I guess that's general life advice.
What are the opportunities for female footballers in the USA (and UK)?
The opportunities are growing for female footballers and it’s important not only for women's professional football but also women's equality. I am so thankful for the women who came before me and I am excited to be part of football right now.
What is the future for American women's football?
The future for American women's football is bright. I think there is a great deal of investment in development and exposure. I am very excited for what the future holds in women's sport.
What do you expect to change after the 2019 WWC?
With the 2019 WWC, this has been built up and has had extensive media exposure more so than in the past. Because of this media exposure and hopefully larger audience, women's equality will be more widely discussed. It is an exciting time to be part of women's football.