I love soccer!I really do. I am not the best player (but not the worst), but I am a good spectator! 🙂 Soccer just seems to be the world’s sport. I have been on 10 mission trips outside of America and in each one, a game of soccer somehow quickly seemed to break the ice and help us find some common ground with the community. While in Costa Rica (with Xtreme Impact alongside YWAM), I even had the joy of watching a game at the stadium in Heredia.
It is a memory I will never forget! I have also attended several European games at FCK’s stadium in Kaiserslautern when I was in Germany. It was truly a joy to be in Germany during World Cup 2006. The streets were full of laughter and partying (and random huge giant screen tvs in high def). I was excited for Germany as they hosted the Women’s World Cup again this year. Perhaps knowing it was in my second homeland this year made it extra exciting for me! I still remember it like yesterday when I
watched with bated breath when the American women won the FIFA World Cup in 1999. It was with much excitement that now in 2011 I watched them again make it to the World Cup finals! I had very hopes for the USA team and was rooting for them all the way but I was very happy that Japan also – made it to the finals. The country of Japan had been through so much heart ache and pain this year with the tsunami and earthquake. Earlier this year in moments over 10,000 of their people died and thousands and thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed. Then the country was left to not only emotional and physical turmoil but financial ruin as well. So I was happy that Japan unexpectantly made it to the finals. These female athletes were fighting not just for a victory but for the morale and hope of their entire country. While watching the game, I was feeling restless when the score was still 0 to 0 at halftime. It was about 15 minutes later (i am not a journalist. forgive me if my times are a little off) that I jumped up as America scored the first goal. The Japanese women did not let this goal discourage them! Just a couple minutes later they also scored a goal. USA would not let the ball go that easily and scored minutes after putting the score at 2-1. The excitement was building as I remarked on face book that it was one of the best soccer games I had even seen. I love a game with a lot of angst! It was about 13 minutes after this second goal that i looked down at my computer for a second, starting to assume America would win, and it was at that moment a talented female athlete, Homare Sawa tied the score. The score would be decided from the penalty kick-offs. Unfortunately, the awesome American team just didn’t quite have their arms and legs where they needed to be in the game. Perhaps they did not expect the Japanese girls to run quite so hard and quite so fast. In end the game came down to the penalty shoot out and the Japanese women seized the victory. I hope I do not sound un-American, but I could not help but rejoice with the Japanese as they re-acted emotionally to their Word Cup win. The Americans did extremely well in the World Cup and I am proud of them for getting so far, but the Japanese wanted it more and their prowess on the field showed it! For these Japanese female athletes the win was about love for their country. Their nation had been brought down by a natural disaster recently but they wanted to remind their people that this did event did not defeat their patriotism for their land, in fact it could unite them closer together. I hope much of the world watched this World Cup victory and smiled a little as they thought how much this country needed to win and how much they deserved a victory. Perhaps, God really was smiling down on the Japansese girls soccer team. As the JFA president, Junji Ogura put it, “Its almost like a miracle, we have played the US 25 times and never won!” It was my prayer that somehow this win might bring a little hope and emotional healing to the country of Japan. May it also serve as a reminder to the world that this country is still in pain so we need to keep reaching out to them, if not physically or monetarily, then through our heartfelt prayers!
See more awesome pics at FIFA.com