Letter to the Editor: Making Soccer Interesting

This January, Women’s World Cup coach Jill Ellis made a major announcement. “I haven’t thought about it,” she said of announcing the time and date for her squad’s championship match, “but I wouldn’t be…

Letter to the Editor: Making Soccer Interesting

This January, Women’s World Cup coach Jill Ellis made a major announcement. “I haven’t thought about it,” she said of announcing the time and date for her squad’s championship match, “but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on Saturday.” She continued, “I’ve never been around a team that’s more excited for this opportunity to go for it.” The day after, that moment in World Cup history occurred.

A new era — a new era where narratives get subverted and character growth happens in the throes of a moment, where women have the talent and tactics to play inspiring and at times breathtaking soccer in front of millions. Five months into her tenure, Ellis has shaped what what is statistically the biggest team in world soccer — a team that crushed a star-studded USA squad in the semifinals — into a group of players who all scored. World Cup debutante, the diminutive phenom, Marie Claire Mendoza, lit up the first half in an unreal victory against Germany in her first game, scoring in the 13th and 43rd minutes to put the hosts ahead 3-0. This was not a game the Germans had lost at the same venue before. This was the home side, 8-1 since Euro 2016, coming to match the intensity of their opponent. It was not a game Ellis thought about coaching, but it was one she came to love and, of course, won.

A Télégramme on Sports (radio public-facing story lines) translated the words as, “Good soccer.” Good soccer translates into teams that don’t capitulate and fight and claw and each of the many moments when these teams score. It translates to character, insight and steps forward in the evolution of an international sport where women’s football has become a fascinating game that is part metaphor and part narrative — a hybrid of sports and social commentary. Sports is what we do. Whether you call it sports or a great thing to do, those who are passionate about the teams who care and play for one another. Sports is about balance and competition. It is about individuals. It is about motivation and preparation. It is about high expectations. And in certain cases, it is about sacrifice. It is a privilege to work with these women and coach these women, and to support these women.

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