Go US! Go Japan! Women’s World Cup 2011 Final (VIDEO)

Tomorrow is the finals for the Women’s World Cup 2011 in Germany. The US — defending Olympic champion and the no. 1-tanked team coming into the tournament — is playing against Japan, exactly 12 years after the US beat China to win the title in 1999. TV viewership of the 2011 Women’s World Cup is up by 200 percent over the 2007 tournament held in China, according to Nielsen.

Interviewing a group of 11-year-old girl soccer players in West Los Angeles, NPR found that their favorite female soccer player is Mia Hamm, one of women’s soccer greatest players– “but the U.S. women’s star forward retired back when these girls were toddlers.”

In fact, more than a few of the players on the US’s current team were just around 11 years old when the US beat China. Strikers Lauren Cheney and Alex Morgan were 11 and 10, respectively. The fact that girls their age when the US last won aren’t naming them, or striker Abby Wambach, or goalie Hope Solo, could be seen as a sign of how far women’s soccer and women’s sports have to go in catching the public eye.

I’m more hopeful (absolutely no pun intended with goalie Solo’s name!). In the parks and fields of our mid-sized New Jersey town, we see as many girls as boys playing soccer and, more recently, lacrosse. Tons of girls are on school and town swim teams, or play volleyball or softball, or run track and cross country. It’s all a real contrast to when I was growing up and only a few girls — and very few Asian American girls — played soccer or any sports, hurrying off in their moms’ station wagons to practices after school. Now it’s commonplace for girls to play sports (my cousins’ daughters have done swimming, gymnastics and kung fu) and, while I ran some cross-country in high school, I often wish I had been part of a team when I was younger.

The US and Japan play at 2:45pm on Sunday. Japan is the sentimental favorite, as NPR describes:

Sunday’s title match will be Japan’s first. But the Japanese players have shown few signs of nerves at this World Cup — in interviews, they say they want to win, to inspire and console the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that their country is still coping with.

“Even little things, like a win, can give people courage and hope,” Japanese coach Norio Sasaki told the AP. “And when we play the final, we are not going to think about the end result. We are just going to do what we can.”

Also impressive is this comment from goalie Solo:

Discussing Japan, Hope Solo told the AP, “They are playing for something bigger and better than the game. And when you’re playing with so much emotion, and so much heart — that’s hard to play against. So I think it’s going to be an incredible final that people didn’t expect to see.”

It sounds like a final in which they’ll be no loser and one that makes me look forward to fall, when my son and I pass many a field of girls, under- and over- 11, practicing and playing hard on the field.

Some highlights of the US team in World Cup 2011:

Related Care2 Coverage

Soccer Referee Fired for Wearing Hijab

FIFA Bans Iranian Women’s Soccer Team For Wearing the Hijab

Sec. Clinton Announces Global Sports Initiative For Girls


Jeeva N.
Jeeva N.6 years ago

Was the USA team over confident ... missed so many chances to score ... and in the end a reluctant player stepped out and delivered a soft kick with no result. Was she injured ? I admire her guts when others shied away.

Jeeva N.
Jeeva N.6 years ago

A frightened child's mind ... a hard practicing child's mind ... a grown up player's goal in mind ... are all beautifully brought out with attractive writer's skill. Thank you.
Am 74 today and my admiration for Soccer is as fresh as when I was playing for my college as a 16, 17 year old brat.
We played bare feet and I detested the clashing of bodies. Began the "passing game" after reading of Stanley Mathews, Tom Finney and company.
My heart goes out to this youngster who is blessed with skillful feet and writing fist.
Am sure it would be a treat for you readers, to read her autobiography, one day, when am no more.

Hugh Mcintyre
Hugh Mcintyre6 years ago

interesting article!

Joey O.
J. O6 years ago

Women's soccer is one the few sports I follow. That was a great game and both teams deserve recognition. In light of all the misfortune that Japan has suffered this year, I was glad to see such a positive outcome for the Japanese team.

Danuta W.
Danuta W6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Billie C.
Billie C6 years ago

both teams gave it everything they had. congrats to both.

Gulu Uttamchandani
GR U6 years ago

Congrats! to the Japanese team.
Japan needed this to enliven the spirits of all who have been suffering from the Great North-Eastern Earthquake & Tsunami!

Excellent Job!.... Well done>>>

Dominic C.
Dominic C6 years ago

Both Japan and US played well...very gutsy! The Japanese held out and US lost on penalties. Credit to the Japanese girls for showing that Asia can thrive in sports.

Jo Anne P.
Jo Anne Pyne6 years ago

Too bad the U. S. didn't win, but let's face it, Japan really needed this after all they've gone through. This was the way it should have ended even though our girls played their hearts out. They're still winners!

Naoko I.
Naoko i6 years ago

Yeeeeeeeehi !! (excuse me, but I'm so moved by the Japanese girls' amazing victory !)