The Rise & Inspiration of Women’s Soccer by Megan T.
Over the years, soccer has become one of the most popular sports around the world. For a long time, women have experienced an immense amount of gender discrimination. They have been underestimated, paid less, and overlooked for certain jobs merely because they are women.
Although women’s soccer has been around for a while, it has only become popular in the past few decades. The U.S Women’s National Team (USWNT) has a long history. After winning multiple games and the 1996 Olympics, the USWNT continued on their journey and proceeded to the 1999 World Cup. After barely surviving against Germany with a score of 3-2, they were ready to face their opponent again. It was China, which they barely beat in the previous Olympics. This was a tough game, and they used all of their might to defeat China. Unfortunately, their last chance came down to penalty kicks. It was Brandi Chastain who smashed the ball in the back of the net, which led the USWNT to their victory--this moment is the legacy documented on many magazine covers. This team was known as the 99ers. Some of these legends were Joy Fawcett, Shannon Higgins, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy, Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, April Heinrichs, Carla Overbeck, Carin Jennings, and Brianna Scurry. From that day on, they were considered legends and inspired many other young women like Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, and countless others to be the best they could be--some of them are still on the current USWNT.
Today, millions of young girls play soccer in the U.S. and are inspired by these female athletes who paved the way. But why is soccer chosen over many other sports?
I interviewed some soccer players that are very competitive in this sport. They all said that playing soccer was very intriguing and they love the sport. However, when I asked about their idols and who they admired in professional soccer, their responses were very diverse. First, Keira said that she looked up to Alex Morgan, a USWNT forward. Alex Morgan is inspiring to many younger players, and what Keira recognizes about her is that she is a great, feisty player who is not only good at soccer, but she is also an actor and an outstanding author. Similarly, Julia views Alex Morgan as a role model too, acknowledging Morgan's speed, grit, and awareness of the game. In contrast, Nadia had someone else in mind. As Nadia has a passion for being an awesome goalkeeper, she looks up to the former USWNT goalkeeper, Hope Solo. Solo was very talented and was one of the most phenomenal goalkeepers in history. Additionally, she was a resilient player and always anticipated the ball. Ruby loves soccer and has been playing for years. She idolizes Megan Rapinoe, a current player who is also on the USWNT. Rapinoe’s touch on the ball is like a magnet and her kick is a bullet, making her an exceptionally gifted player.
Thanks to daunting women from the mid-19th century and the USWNT ‘99ers, it is no wonder why many girls are so inspired by these talented and groundbreaking soccer players.