coached watched the US Womens’ Soccer Team desperately beat Columbia 2-0 the other night, I went to bed sad with the lack of good soccer our team is putting out. I’m not sure what is causing the lack of “Wow” factor they are playing with this world cup, but my heart is broken for them. This is a group of talented women who chose to play a sport because they love the game. They are beyond talented and so deserve to win a world cup (hello 16 year drought). They are amazing women with individual stories to tell. They are the role models that more athletes should be. They stay in their soccer world playing their game. Rarely do we hear of them outside of a soccer story. Yet, we are being so very critical of the their performance so far and it’s breaking hearts.
This past year I had a group of students who were sure they would be NFL stars. I found this more than annoying. They didn’t want to play because they loved the game (ok, one of them did) but they wanted to be famous and have a Nike contract. A precedent set before them no less.Being the realist that I am, we quickly researched the average career span of an NFL player to find it was 3 years. Most are left bankrupt 3 years after that. I have yet to see an endorsement for being unemployed and bankrupt before 30. I told my kids they could have the NFL dream, just have a back up plan too. This is where the National Team is different from other athletes. The US soccer team loves the game first. A few of them make good money with endorsements and a world cup win would land them a nice bonus check or two, but they love the game first. Sure there’s a Women’s League to play in, but the pay isn’t much. They didn’t dream of endorsements, fans and autographs growing up. They just wanted to play soccer.
These players love the small loyal fan base they have, because for many of them, I’m sure they remember watching the 99′ world cup final where the team became America’s Sweethearts. The 11 year old in me who watched that game wide eyed and on the edge of my seat, so longs to see them win again. The next generation needs to fall in love with this team and the amazing women that wear the uniform. If you follow any of the players on social media you will see how grounded they are. They can be seen playing pranks, card games and singing on the team bus. Much like the many youth teams on the road. Making them that much more lovable and real.
They are humble in interviews and will generously give their time talking to fans. Carly Lloyd stayed after training to talk to the press and had to ride back after the team bus left. So when she saw a group of girls decked in the red white and blue (FYI Nike: those are our colors) she had the car stop and she hopped out to say hello. Watch the video here: Carly Surprises Fans. Obtaining an autograph from a player is fairly easy if you attend a game and stick around.
Tomorrow the team takes on China in the quarterfinals and you can watch the game on Fox at 7:30 (ET). A 99′ world cup final rematch. While we should win this game, soccer is so very unpredictable. My hope for this game is that the “WOW” factor is back. That America falls in love with this new generation of players whom we so love this team and believe in all that it can do. The next generation needs you just as we needed the 99’s. #Shebelieves
|Remember this moment?|
And this SNL skit it just wonderful so here’s a bonus one for you: World Cup SNL