Lessons learned from the US Women’s Soccer World Cup

HUGE congratulations to the US Women’s Soccer team for this afternoon’s semifinal victory over France!  Whenever there are inspirational stories that capture the nation, the former teacher in me can’t help but wonder how I would use them as learning opportunities – old habits die hard I suppose!  I was thrilled to come across this post after Sunday’s mind-blowing victory over Brazil on important life lessons that can be drawn from this team’s incredible accomplishment – learning through play at its best!

Lessons learned from the US Women’s Soccer world cup victory over Brazil

Posted on July 11, 2011 by Diane K. Danielson
As an avid soccer fan and player, this weekend’s quarterfinal USA win over Brazil will go down in my mind as one of my favorite sports moments.  The US went ahead early on an “own goal” by Brazil, but then due to a travesty of bad calls and bad acting by Brazil, found themselves trailing 2-1 by the end of the second OT. With only a minute left, we managed to put in a beautiful header to send us to penalty kicks, which we won. To add to the drama, this was exactly 12 years to the day after the US women beat China in penalty kicks to win the world cup in the Rose Bowl after Brandi Chastain took the final go-ahead kick.There were a lot of lessons to be learned from that game, and from the 2011 Women’s World Cup. 

1.  Young girls need to see role models. Kudos to ESPN for running all the games. Some said no one would watch, but the US-Brazil shootout was the most watched tournament game since 1999 (when the Women’s World Cup was in the US). I especially liked that for most of the tournament, the half-time announcers were 3 women (including the afore-mentioned Brandi Chastain). For the US game, they did bring in veteran male sports reporters, but it wasn’t necessary. The gals were doing great, and the males were already adequately represented by Ian Darke who does fabulous play-by-play commentary along with US Women’s Team veteran Julie Foudy.

2.  It takes a complete team to win the big ones. There was a lot of talk about Marta, the Brazilian player who has been voted best player in the world 5 times. But, while she and a handful of her teammates had footskills and speed that surpassed the US, we worked together as a team. This was never more apparent than after a tough call by the ref, who gave an unnecessary red card to the US in the 60th minute, meant our women had to play short-handed for the remainder of the game.  In addition, the key to the tying goal by the US in the last minute of play was a left-footed cross by Megan Rapinoe who came off the bench mid-game. Your team is only as good as the depth of your bench.

3.  Preparation is key.  The reason the US women won came down to pure physical stamina and the ability to handle pressure.

4.  Sometimes life isn’t fair. A lot of calls went against the US including the red card,  a blocked penalty kick being called a do-over, and a missed off-sides call that led to Brazil’s go-ahead goal. After every setback, our US team didn’t dwell on it, but focused and played even better.

5. Karma does catch up with you. After a Brazilian player faked an injury to run out the clock (while they were ahead), the US used the extra stoppage time added back on the clock at the end to score in the final minute to tie. Yep. These things do come back to haunt you.

6. These women do this for the love of the game. There is no big money in women’s soccer, and while a couple might get sponsorships, they are terrific role models that all our daughters (and sons) should see. There are some fabulous stories behind all the players. Hope Solo, who is now arguably the best goaltender in the world was once dropped from the team a few years back.  Ali Krieger, who scored the final penalty kick goal, had a life threatening illness a few years ago; and Christie Rampone, at 34 and one of the oldest players in the league, is also a mother of two who kept Brazil’s 25-year old Marta in check for the entire 122 minutes of play.

Diane K. Danielson is the founder of the Downtown Women’s Club and a marketing consultant with DKD New Media Strategies (and still plays soccer despite being old enough to wear #9 on the soccer field before Mia Hamm was even born …)

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