Three weeks ago my plans for the second week of August consisted of work and maybe a spin class or two. Then a friend gave me a call and asked if by any chance I was interested in attending the second half of the Summer Olympics. He knows I am a huge soccer fan and with his job as a travel agent he had a couple of extra ladies soccer tickets and a hotel if I was interested. Needless to say, I was very interested. So just like that I turned my life upside down and was on my way to London for the week.
Knowing that a lot would have to align in order to see the U.S. women play for the gold medal, I still figured it was worth the trip. And thanks to an overtime victory against Canada in the semifinal match (that game in itself was worth the flight over) I found myself watching the U.S.A. take on their chief rival Japan in the gold medal game.
The game was hosted at Wembley Stadium on the outskirts of the city as over 80,000 people crammed the stadium to set a record crowd for a women’s soccer match in Great Britain.
After Japan claimed the FIFA Women’s World Cup last summer I knew that the U.S. women would give everything that they had in order to reclaim their rightful place as the best in the world. And you could sense from the moment the game began that both teams were fully vested in claiming the championship. But of course there can only be one winner and thanks to two goals by midfielder Carli Lloyd, who came off the bench to help clinch the victory, the U.S. women won their third consecutive gold medal and fourth overall.
I have seen a lot of soccer games and this win, this historic win by the U.S. women, reminds me so much of the World Cup win in 1999. That match propelled women’s soccer into the national spotlight and reiterated to a young generation of females that you don’t need to be male to dream big. Many of those young girls who watched that team over a decade ago now have gold medals around their neck and are the ones inspiring a new generation.
As I looked around the stadium filled with exuberant fans, I found it fitting that this Olympics was the first time in which the women outnumbered the men for the U.S. team. And this gold medal match proved that not only are more females playing sports, but it is also becoming cool to watch women play sports. The enthusiasm in the air at the game never let up as shouts for “Morgan”, “Wambach” and “Solo” were screamed by male, female, young and old.
And as I watched the U.S. team awarded their gold medals, I couldn’t help but be excited about not only the future of this sport, but also for the thousands of young girls watching with me. They are free to dream outside the box because other women have knocked that box completely out of the way for them. We may have just celebrated another gold medal for U.S. Women’s soccer, but I think it really means more than that.
Here's a peek at some of the fans at Wembley Stadium on Thursday.
by WTS contributor Sarah Hallett
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