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Women's World Championship: Influential leaders in women's football look back in France 2019 and up to the future of the game



PARIS – 2019 The FIFA Women 's World Cup came to a definite conclusion on Sunday in Lyon, when the United States defeated the Netherlands 2-0 to earn their fourth star over their frame. Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle found the back of the net in the second half to secure the win in front of a sold audience of 57,900 fans at Stade de Lyon. Fans were chanting for equal pay when FIFA President Gianni Infantino and French President Emmanuel Macron were on the stage handing out gold medals to the American players.

Members of the championship traveled from France to New York City, where they will prepare for a ticker tap pair on the domestic market on Wednesday. The last sports team to receive such an honor in New York was ̵

1; you guessed it – USWNT in 2015. The 2-0 victory over the Dutch side averted one of the most entertaining women's football tournaments in the latest memory that the rest of the world is trying to catch up with The United States – an unapologetic team that pushed the boundaries and demanded more from its bosses (including a trial filed in March requiring US football for equal pay). They had great influence on and outside the field.

USWNT will hold a victorious trip – possibly 6-10 friendly matches across the country – from August at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The popularity of women's games continues to increase. The ratings in the US were 20 percent higher than the 2018 World Cup final in Russia for the men. Keep in mind that this last Sunday highlighted the Copa America final between Brazil and Peru and the Gold Cup final between the US national team and Mexico as well.

So what's happening now? Will the affiliate give players equal pay? What about women's games? The National Women 's Soccer League season is in full gear and gets sponsors thanks to the World Cup fever. The Tokyo Olympics is just around the corner – just over 12 months away. Will we feel momentum snowball when we get closer to Tokyo Games?

Nike, who launched a strong advertising moment after the United States claimed back-to-back titles held a women's football panel in Le 4 Showroom in Paris ahead of the big game. Five powerful women in the football industry came to us for a discussion on the play mode:

  • Laure Boulleau, former French national team and current ambassador for Paris Saint-Germain
  • Karina LeBlanc, former Canadian goalkeeper and current CONCACAF women's soccer leader
  • Nadia Nadim, Afghan-Danish attacker currently on PSG
  • Rocky Hehakaija, former Dutch player and director of the Favela Street Foundation
  • Anna Kessel, women's sports editor for telegraph in England, author of " Eat, sweat, games: how sports can change our lives "

Nadim talks well about her journey to professional football recently shared in" Spit Fire, Dream Higher ", a Gurls Talk documentary that premiered in London on Monday about youth women in soccer-breaking barriers and building relationships within their communities. She was born in Afghanistan, where her father was killed by the Taliban when she was 10 years old. Her family decided to leave the country, saying that women had no rights or a voice to talk about issues like women in sports. "It was impossible for us to be there so we left the country – or actually escaped, smuggled out of the country. We had to buy fake passports and everything. Faith led me to a refugee camp where football was there and football saved my life , "said Nadim.

LeBlanc told us she started playing football because it helped overcome some malice problems. "No one has ever thought I was the worst kid in the room," said LeBlanc, who was one of Fox's hosts in the Women's World Cup. She was bullied while living in the Caribbean and eventually moved to Canada, where she discovered the sport thanks to a friend who invited her to play. "I think the statistics are that 76 percent of girls play football because they want to be connected to friends," LeBlanc said.

Hehakaija was an aspiring football player for the Netherlands before her pro career was cut short by knee injury. It opened the way for her to become a street football legend and launch the Favela Street Foundation where she works with underprivileged children in neighborhoods across the globe, including Brazil and Haiti. She also works as a motivational speaker and acts as a scout for Nike, seeking the new wave of talent in women's football.

I was fortunate enough to talk to a couple of them to get their intended how this will affect the future generation of women's football and their most memorable moment in the tournament:

What Will The Lasting Effect Of Women's World championship?

Karina LeBlanc: I used this shirt [that reads ‘game-changer’] on purpose. I think everyone will leave this World Cup feeling very different about the woman's game. I think if you are a player you have to play in the biggest and deepest and strongest World Cup, but even if you are a fan, I think everyone has had a moment when they were wowed.

From anyone I have spoken to, whether there have been people who have seen the game for the first time or never seen a game or have been fans for many years, it has been a World Cup that has created moments for people who want to do It is memorable forever.

Nadia Nadim: This world championship brought the sport to a wider audience, and since these amazing athletes become role models – hear their stories, hear their battle – that young girls can relate to … was the biggest thing for me. It will have a great influence in the coming generations. You must see [the female athletes on television] before you can believe it. I grew up, I didn't have any female football role models. I had [Cristiano] Ronaldo and Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] people I love, but now you have the choice of who your role model is.

Rocky Hehakaija: I think years from now, we're returning to this tournament and saying, "It was a turning point." And so I continue to say that this is so special momentum, because after this World Cup I think more sponsors and more associations will come up on the record to do more to raise the game.

Speaking from the Dutch perspective, this is the second time we have qualified for the World Cup, and we made it to the finals. It's just something to raise the game in the country. I know they are already taking steps to do so. The wheels must start turning more, but it starts.

If I compare it to playing for the national team, I dreamed of playing football in sold out stadiums, so the fact that we see it and it actually happens is crazy.

What was your favorite Women's World Cup moment ??

LeBlanc: Because of my job, my favorite moment was the Jamaica team scoring because that moment meant so much to those girls. They wanted to come here and make their country proud and change the conversation on their island, but what they did was change the conversation on all Caribbean islands. You can see the joy that came from scoring that goal. For me, I remember playing in a world championship and what it is like to be on a team that you score a goal, but imagine scoring the first ever goal for your country and knowing that a region is watching you. Talking to the girls before the tournament, I told them "be your own hero". Be the person you would always be, but know that so many people see and they want you to be their hero. The moment they scored, I was choked because they were their own hero. That goal was more than winning or losing, it was a goal to celebrate everything they've been through.

As a Canadian, I unfortunately believed my team lost too early. They played their best football ever and I'm proud of them. Again, they are hero in Canada, so I'm proud of them for that.

The France-USA game was the one for me that I didn't want to play until that moment. You hear the music … you hear [American] Outlaws, but then you hear the French fans. Everyone wanted to be there because this game was labeled the epic game. We did not want this in the quarterfinals, it could have been the final, and it lived up to all that. No matter who I was talking to, they were like "wow, it was a moment."

I went with the American outlaws, which was strange to me because I'm like, "OK, I'm Canadian." But they were so welcoming. We had to go up to the stadium and meet the French and head down the highway together, and the French police organized it. It is women's football because you unite the world. Everyone is here and they are passionate about their country, but also passionate about women's games. And it's a peaceful game.

Nadim: The game Argentina-Scotland was so exciting and so emotional. People cheered for Argentina, and I had the wrong shirt because I had friends in the Scottish team, and then I also began to cheer for Argentina. I've been to many great games at Old Trafford, Anfield, Etihad – you're called. This was the first time I had goosebumps on a game. I lost my vote because of the penalty. It's one of my favorite moments in football, period.

Even when Thailand scored their first goal in Nice … watching the reaction of the Thai fans who went crazy and then their leader was crying, it was cool to see how much it meant to all of them.

England against American struggle was electric. You could just feel the atmosphere and intensity. I don't know how to say it, but this World Cup has just been different. I'm going to be sad that it's over, but on the other hand I'm a little bit happy because I want some time to rest a little because I feel like a fan I've been through so many feelings Look at all these games. It's almost like I've been camped with the national team for a whole month because of my job on television.

Hehakaija: Speak from Marta after the fight when they were knocked out of France. Martha is my greatest idol … and the impact of this speech, the emotional racism of this speech, still touches me to the core, and that is one of my most important takeaways. And of course, the Dutch distinguishes themselves to the finals, but Marta certainly stands out.

What are the next steps for women's football to grow?

Anna Kessel: I think that when talking to leading bodies or people in leading positions in the sport, they felt that there have already been so many advances as if we did. It's a kind of attitude. And they forget what is going on in the earth – the kind of stories Nadia shared. It happened when Nadia was small, but it is still happening now.

I have two daughters, one is 7 years old and she goes to school and the boys still say "you can't play football." It's the status quo … and it's not unique to her school, it's quite normal. Football is the national game in England and yet not every girl has access to the game. It's just fundamentally wrong.

I think it's really disturbing. We are investigating, we are fighting for equality for women and men, and there is still a vast area of ​​sport where it is still culturally acceptable to tell girls that they cannot exercise a sport and there is no logical or rational reason for it. that they can do it For any person to enter this world and be told, they can do nothing – at 4 years – because they have a vagina is just crazy. Sports is such an important, powerful arena. This is where money and politics and power cross. We've seen our politicians use sports … and denying women access to it is huge.

Yes, we've seen some progress and girls are starting to play football, and that's good. But you can see the difference already from the boy who started playing at 2 or 3 and was told all the time that this was natural and right for him … and the girl who might start at 6 or 7 and is slower and … You have to overcome and trust problems and barriers and friendships and "is it right for me to do as girls or not." How do they ever come to this point?

There is a lot of work to do … and I think if we start there, then [we’ll continue to see more progress].

LeBlanc: I think it comes down to changing the mindset of the game's power and using athletes who have been through things like power, showing their story so parents understand what football can really do for their daughters. If I say it 50 million times, it's not as valuable as a current player who says, "How the game changed my life." So we need to change the perception and we need to build the foundation and make sure that football is not seen as a price, but as an opportunity – a solution for health, obesity, for girls who do not feel the connection – beyond the field. How we grow with the participation.

FIFA came up with a strategy we [CONCACAF] came up with our strategy a month ago. But for the president to say he must invest $ 1 billion, it's huge … This can actually be the place where we make our biggest change.

Commercial dollars go up, attention goes up, participation numbers go up – everything goes up. It's time for football to blow up, and that's not what it has before, but now people are coming back.


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