Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Champions at Last!

We won. We won the World Cup!

Our whole family was glued to the television in these days. It's difficult to find a sporting event that we all like, but the World Cup fits the bill. We love our World Cup soccer!

And this year, for the first time, our team won it all. 

I don't feel the need to add a qualifying term to this statement, as though the fact that I'm talking about the United States Women's National Team somehow diminishes the achievement. Women's soccer stands on its own merits, and people who really appreciate sports don't need to be convinced of this fact.

These are outstanding athletes who are building great teams, exciting and dynamic teams that deserve more attention and enthusiasm for their efforts.

And they're beginning to get it.

Great Ladies: USWNT 2015
Ironically, the one country that undervalues soccer in general has been awakened by the drama, the style, and the brilliance of its own women's team. The country where many people say that watching a soccer match is like watching paint dry is paying attention to this team because they really are the best in the world.

It helps that so many young people in America (boys and girls) are playing "the beautiful game" these days. It's inspiring to them to see these young women who work hard to hone their craft, to play together as a team, to take risks and come through in the big games, and to be gracious on the pitch, always -- in the losses of previous years as well as in this year's victory.

I look at the veterans of this team. They were the new, or relatively new faces of 2007, people like Carli Lloyd, Heather O'Reilly, Hope Solo. Our family remembers 2011 with its heart-stopping victories and its disappointment in the final against Japan. The gold medal at the 2012 Olympics only went part of the way to fixing that.

Carli Lloyd kisses the trophy after scoring three goals in the final
This year even Josefina was aware of what was going on. Teresa has been playing soccer and the other girls play team sports. And indeed, anyone who plays or appreciates a team sport was treated to a display of how-to-do-it-together.

When the women lifted the trophy, Josefina asked, "Is that the cup?"

"You bet it is, kiddo."

"But it's not a cup. It's a ball."

Well, there is a design that suggests a cup around the ball and actually it's nicer than the men's trophy but I can't explain this to an eight year old while everyone else is jumping around and celebrating.

Congratulations Team USA!!!