I was always casually interested in soccer, growing up. I’ll fully admit, however, that I’m not good at playing. I’ve tried but, ultimately, I always have to reconcile with the fact that I’m, at best, mediocre at a sport I love dearly. Give me almost any other sport and I’ll play it pretty well. Soccer, though? That’s another story.
I trip over the ball. I’m not fast. When a high ball comes toward me, it’s possible that I’ll shatter my glasses trying to headbutt it. The only time I was even remotely close to scoring a goal, I took a shot, and the ball sailed wide, while my shoe flew off and ended up in goal, instead. But despite my lack of skills, I am an excellent soccer spectator. I’ve cheered on friends and their teammates at their games (and occasionally caused them embarrassment, when friends and I would actually bring signs along). I attended a few men’s national level games, and I’m a frequent watcher of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
My introduction to women’s soccer at the international level was when Edmonton held several games for the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in 2002. I was nineteen, and was absolutely blown away by the skill, enthusiasm and graciousness shown by our Canadian players. This is where I first saw several of the players that are on this year’s Canadian squad: Christine Sinclair, Carmelina Moscato and Erin McLeod. Many of the other players from that squad are still involved in soccer in some capacity; you may have noticed Kara Lang and Clare Rustad providing commentary for TSN and CTV. Canada was runner-up that year, with the U.S. beating us in the final match (those jerks!).
Seeing players of that calibre was…yeah, I’m going to say it… life-changing. And before you’re like, “That’s an exaggeration,”let me tell you something. I was an extremely oblivious kid. I was more preoccupied with channeling my endless energy into the numerous sports I played to avoid the boredom I found living in rural Alberta. I didn’t even realize I might be gay. Any feelings I may have had for other girls growing up was always mistaken as admiration. I guess that’s the problem with growing up with little-to-no exposure to other LGBT people, organizations, celebrities or media, and being surrounded by heteronormativity at every corner. The confluence of events that made me doubt my heterosexuality was cemented when I watched the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship. I ended that summer knowing that I was definitely not straight, and so much of those first nineteen years of my life made a lot more sense.
Since 2002 I have been following the Canadian Women’s National Team, as a lot of the U-19 players went on to play for the National Team in events like the Pan Am Games and the Olympics. Watching these amazing athletes hone their skills and compete on the world stage, while both suffering devastating losses and coming back from those losses as a stronger team, is inspirational. I know I’m not the only person who feels inspired by these amazing women. The fact that soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in Canada is a testament to all of the hard work these women show fans when they’re on the pitch. I mean, if Christine Sinclair doesn’t inspire you, even a little bit, then I’m not sure what to tell you. Maybe, look at this photo of her playing with a broken nose.
The great thing about inspiration is that it’s not limited to one person, or even a group of people, and everyone experiences it differently. The Women’s Canadian National Team set out to inspire other Canadians, particularly young girls, to become interested in soccer, and I think they have definitely achieved that goal. For myself, I feel inspired by them to work harder towards my fitness goals, but to also combine those goals with spending time with my friends. If I’ve learned anything from these ladies, it’s that when you combine a sport you love with people that you also love, great things can happen. Who knows? Maybe one day, I’ll have muscles like Karina LeBlanc!
Which leads us to why we made a Boozy Boob Tube video about the Women’s World Cup …
We’re very lucky to live in Edmonton for tons of reasons, but one of the big ones is that Edmonton was one of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 host cities, including the opening ceremonies. Having an event like that in your city automatically makes the event more exciting. Katie and Jessica have been friends for over 10 years and neither one of them realized what a huge fan the other was of women’s soccer until before this tournament started in Edmonton. Let’s just say they fueled each other’s flames of obsession into a mighty inferno and Lou got dragged into it, too. As you might have noticed, all three of us fall easily and frequently into love with television shows and characters; it’s not that often real life catches our fancy in the same way. For that and many other reasons, coming together to cheer for Canada’s women’s soccer team has been a really special experience.
John Herdman has said Christine Sinclair is the pride of Canada, and she is. She really really is. But so is the rest of this team. There were times throughout the tournament when our hearts were in our throats and on our sleeves. Times when we cheered. Times when we screamed. Times when we cried. And we knew, from before the time the first game was played, that this tournament would be important, not just to us, but to the world, and we wanted to capture that in our own silly way. So we documented our own experiences watching Canada play over the last month because this team has come to mean so much to us. When you reach our age, inspiration gets harder to come by but here we are, all three of us, as proof that these women, our team Canada and all the amazing soccer players from all over the world, have inspired us beyond what we may have expected. Mostly, we look a little foolish, screaming at the TV, but we hope we captured a little of how much of a roller coaster this Women’s World Cup was for us.
Remember everybody — next year is an Olympic year!