Around a dozen children, decked in soccer gear from head to toe, run into the Chelsea Piers sports complex in Manhattan – and they all can’t help but squeal when they see their idol in the near distance.

Soccer player Abby Wambach, known for her iconic headers, two-time Olympic wins and adorable kiss with her wife after winning the World Cup, greets the kids in attendance.

They got the chance to meet Wambach after winning the #bestpractices competition through Triax Technologies, a company specializing in impact sensor technology that Wambach partnered with in 2014.

Wambach takes them out onto a soccer field on a recent weekday with a clear mission of having fun but at the same time showing them how to play soccer safely.

“In 2013, I got a concussion and I remember telling the referee and trainer that I was okay when I wasn’t,” Wambach tells PEOPLE on the field. “I played for about two or three more minutes and I couldn’t even see the ball.”

Wambach mentions this brief story because it takes her back to that moment when she realized that if she was suffering from a concussion and chose to ignore it, it must be happening all over the rest of the country.

“The reality is that when you play sports you’re putting yourself at risk,” she says. “But there are way to lower that risk.”
One of those ways, says the soccer star, is with a new tool called Triax.

When an athlete wears the company’s simple head impact monitor, the technology lets the player, their coach or parent know how hard the impact was.

“It’s the perfect thing for people to able to put on their body and protect themselves,” she says. “We can’t always act so tough and take one for the team.”

Wambach admits that she is afraid of what her future might hold because of possible damage done to her brain that she might not be aware of yet.

“My future does scare me,” she says. “But that’s why I want to try and put my best foot forward for the next generation so that they’re better informed an
“My daughter is so nervous right now,” parent Allison Jaffe of Navesink, New Jersey, tells PEOPLE. “This is her dream come true.”

Wambach knows and feels the weight of this responsibility.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but for all those kids out there who want to be soccer players and want to win World Cups and Olympic medals and want to do it the way I’ve done it, they need to use the technology out there,” says Wambach. “This is state-of-the-art stuff I didn’t have growing up.”

She wants to spread this message because she thinks she is the best role model for the youth.

“I have headed the ball so many times,” she says. “I have walked the road. I want to make sure that I give the kids the right information and educate them so that they can live a happier, healthier, longer life than me.


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