Wow, what a month! I must say, I feel emotionally exhausted and invigorated all at the same time. 4 years ago, I wasn’t as into the world cup. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t a part of my world. I watched when I could, but I didn’t make it a priority. I was busy being a new mom and was a bit burned out having been the wife of an MLS player. That means I watched a lot of soccer for a long time! But about a year and a half ago, I caught the documentary the 99ers on ESPN. It took one short movie to get me hooked again. I quickly had an idea for an organization and boom! It was born about 8 months later.
During the process of launching my organization, Female Footballers, I realized that I needed to educate myself on the current team and current players. I was amazed at how interesting it all was to me. I felt so enthusiastic every time the National team had a friendly game. I found myself getting more excited as the World cup approached. I even chose to spend my mothers day taking my 5 year old and 2 year old to the USWNT game. It inspired me that my kids could go to a jam packed stadium and watch women play soccer. Up until this point in their short lives they have been to many men’s games and are aware that their daddy was a pro soccer player, but hadn’t witnessed professional women playing.
And then last month as it all kicked off, I was hooked! I attempted to have a few viewing parties as a way to market my organization. I surprised myself that I had become such a dedicated fan again. After a few viewing parties for the Australia and Nigeria games, I decided that watching these games in a group setting was really fun! It beat the unfocused mood at home where my kids would be asking for a thousand snacks mid game. So for the last month we went to the same restaurant and invited anyone and everyone who wanted to join! I found myself being hooked on stories about the players, stories about FIFA, all good and bad. And then Sunday happened…
I was emotional about our USWNT winning the World Cup again. I have had an array of emotions since too. I can remember being 16 at regional camp in Laramie WY, watching the final in 99. That moment inspired me to be a better player. It gave me instant role models and goals to set and obtain. Watching the game on Sunday, made me emotional because it brought me back to that time. To being a young girl with hopes and dreams in this sport. I immediately felt such a warm feeling to know that these young girls I have been working with this past year in Female Footballers get to have that inspirational time. They get to have these new names and faces to look up to. They get to remember where they were when they watched it. They get to witness it with their own eyes.
In the time since, all 2 days, I have read some very interesting articles. I have read about how Carli Lloyd passed the armband onto Abby Wambach who then passed it onto Christie Rampone. What a classy act and an unspoken example to set for our youth about camaraderie and sportsmanship. I have read about the players who embraced their families afterward, the celebrations, the welcome home wagons across America. I read today about how there will be a ticker tape parade in New York City. I read about how the 99ers are embracing this new team they dubbed the 15ers. I read that Brandi Chastain wasn’t at the world cup final because she was in Oregon with young girls at ODP camp hoping to inspire and help a new generation of young stars. So many of these articles are so positive. Upbeat. Inspiring.
And then I have read the other ones. The articles that are real. The ones that make me realize that we as women are still fighting for equal rights, and equal pay in sports. I read two opposing articles about how it is truly unfair that the men get a whopping $35 million for winning the cup and the women get a measly $2 million. The opposing article mentioned how instead of bringing light to the salary discrepancy, we should bring to light the lack of sponsorship money and ticket sales for the NWSL. They mentioned how if we want to do something about this issue we should go out and buy a ticket and a jersey and start to support ALL of women’s soccer, not just our country’s stars. I read another set of opposing articles where women sports was questioned as legitimate and the other stating that we become legitimate when we stop questioning it. I read about the many injuries all women suffered in the world cup due to the turf conditions, some being 120 degrees at times on the field.
All of these negative articles, posts, tweets, do not make me frustrated. It simply makes me smile. All of it, whether positive or negative, is showing that we are talking about women’s soccer in this country. And in fact we are talking about it all over the world. Good or bad, we are discussing it seriously. And we all know that these types of discussions, whether we agree or not on things, will eventually bring about change. I know this sport is going to continue to grow. I can feel it. And for the first time in my life, I feel like I am trying to make a teeny tiny dent in helping the cause of growing the sport that is my passion and by the ratings on Sunday, the countries current passion. My only question is, how are you going to help?