For those who are unaware, the most popular sport in the world soccer, also known as " futbol" has kicked off one of the biggest soccer tournaments known to fans. The 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup started June 26 and is currently taking place in Germany. The United States team started off the tournament with a win against North Korea 2-0 on June 28th. Sixteen teams represent their country to bring home a World Cup Title; the final will take place on July 17th.
With our own former Santa Clara Bronco Brandi Chastain commentating, we feel tremendous Bronco spirit while rooting for the USA Women's team. Chastain is currently a volunteer assistant for the SCU Women's soccer team (click here for her bio). Chastain was part of the World Cup winning 1999 U.S. Women's Soccer Team.
Santaclarabroncos.com took a moment to speak with former Bronco and WPS standout Jordan Angeli, and current players Bianca Henninger and Julie Johnston to get their input about the USA women's team in general, their experience having been involved in youth National camps (Full National Team camps for Angeli and Henninger) and what they think this 2011 World Cup could do for women's soccer in general.
Jordan Angeli spoke about what it means to have represented the U.S and what it must mean for the players doing so in Germany. "It means we are united to work towards our goal to honor the amazing country we live in. To step on the field and wear the red, white and blue with the crest over your heart, it is an amazing experience."
Angeli was invited to a Full Team National Camp, and has had the opportunity to play with and against the players who are representing the U.S in Germany. "They are all super motivated, competitive and self-critical players. The players on this team exemplify those qualities: they are the first to correct things in their own game that need to be improved, they constantly want to win and keep themselves and teammates motivated. It is a great group of players and people."
We asked Angeli how she felt this team and players could create their own identity compared to the U.S teams in the past, "I think the U.S team has learned from the amazing players of our past, but continue to evolve their own personal game. We will never have a Kristine Lilly again, but you better believe we have some amazing players who will write their names in the history."
In terms of how that is accomplished Angeli said, "soccer is such a cool sport because you can add so much flair to your game. There are hardly any 'plays' like in other sports such as football or basketball, so you have a great opportunity to make the game your own."
Having also grown up playing at Youth National camps and even participating with the Full- team at camps, Henninger U.S Soccer's 2010 Young Female Athlete of the Year (click here to read more), understands what it takes to compete at the highest level. "I think the two biggest things are the team's camaraderie and dedication. This team is so dedicated to accomplishing what they set out to do. They've put in all the work and now they just have to execute when they get in games."
When asked what this World Cup could do for the sport in general Henninger said, "with this event, you see the best players on the biggest stage, and the best soccer you're going to see with our sport. I hope that this entices others to continue watching women's soccer, and continue watching the sport develop. For our national team specifically, I hope they can bring the type of rejuvenation of women's soccer in the US that the '99 World Cup brought to the country."
Johnston, a rising sophomore and 2010 WCC Rookie of the Year, has also been fortunate enough to play for the youth national team. "The level and speed of play at the top level is definetly faster. Everything is tuned up in the games and practices. It forces you to think faster run faster, and play faster."
Watching the World Cup games has given Johnston inspiration heading into the upcoming fall season for the Broncos. "Absolutely, being away from school and my teammates for the summer makes me miss the season, even the 5:30 a.m. weights. As I watch the games I just feel the emotions and the same love for the game from the U.S players."