Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might have noticed that the U.S. is pretty pumped up right now for soccer—women’s soccer—and its FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s National Team.
From a Google doodle to every morning news show; from the cover of Sports Illustrated to the Canyon of Heroes in New York City, the U.S. is celebrating this group of 23 athletes for a remarkable win and a powerful spirit that many find inspirational.
While this is the U.S. team’s third World Cup win, this 2015 success has its own unique character, as social media has allowed fans to get to know their favorite players and follow them intimately along their journey to victory.
In addition to that, while great scrutiny has been placed upon women’s issues in recent years and much attention given to the messages society sends our girls, this avalanche of positivity has proven a deep breathe of fresh air.
The win was a big one—with a final score of a whopping 5-2. In the moment of glory, many players took to twitter, including:
Wow. We did it. Years of blood, sweat and tears. World Cup Champions. Thank you for believing! pic.twitter.com/nX0DRC6g6g
— Heather O’Reilly (@HeatherOReilly) July 6, 2015
No big deal but we just won the World Cup. pic.twitter.com/tFOp2y8Ojh
— Meghan Klingenberg (@meghankling) July 6, 2015
Ummm yeah, so that happened! pic.twitter.com/9PRTijKgio
— Becky Sauerbrunn (@beckysauerbrunn) July 6, 2015
So incredibly proud of this team. We did it!!!
— Carli Lloyd (@CarliLloyd) July 6, 2015
All team members: Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, Amy Rodriguez, Sydney Leroux, Morgan Brian, Alex Morgan, Julie Johnston, Tobin Heath, Lori Chalupny, Ashlyn Harris, Christen Press, Abby Wambach, Alyssa Naeher, Christie Rampone, Heather O’Reilly, Hope Solo, Meghan Klingenberg, Becky Sauerbrunn, Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday, Megan Rapinoe, Shannon Boxx, and Whitney Engen, received kudos from the president.
In a phone call to the team earlier this week, Barack Obama said, “You guys worked really hard and made us all really proud.”
And pride is certainly what comes through if you take a gander at fan support on social media. Hashtag #SheBelieves has been established as “a message to girls and women that they can accomplish their goals and dreams,” according to the team’s website.
Pride is also evident if you speak to any soccer-loving girl, like Gianna, age 12, from Hazlet, N.J., who said: “It means that women can do anything, too, and it’s awesome to see that you can achieve anything you put your mind to. It allows you to think, ‘Wow, I can be there someday,’ and makes you work even harder to achieve your goal of playing for the best team in the world.”
The champions were celebrated in New York City on Friday, July 10 at 11 a.m. down the Canyon of Heroes, marking the first time such an honor has ever been bestowed upon an all-female team.
In response to Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s announcement confirming the parade, player Kelley O’Hara tweeted:
— Kelley O’Hara (@kohara19) July 7, 2015
And the best fans they were. The parade route along Broadway, from Battery Park to City Hall, was lined with thousands, and the concentration of female soccer fans and players was evident.
Among the patriotic shouts of “U.S.A.!” many young soccer-playing girls soaked up the dream-invigorating atmosphere.
Emma Philip, 13, came from Brooklyn to watch the parade with her mother. Phillip has been playing soccer since she was 5, and likes “pretty much everything about the game.”
“You learn a lot about growing up through sports,” she said. “You have to work as a team.”
Not only she followed closely the World Cup games, her team was even picked to go to Canada to participate in the many women’s soccer matches organized alongside the championship. Thanks to that, Philip had a chance to go to Montreal and Ottawa to see some of the World Cup matches too. That, in turn, pumped her up for her own games.
“It was very inspirational,” she said. “It kind of boosted everyone’s energy.”
In the future Philip wants to get to a college through soccer, but that’s as far as she would plan right now.
Alani Hernandez, 11, from New Jersey has been playing since she was four. “It’s just very fun,” she said. But it also taught her to value sportsmanship. “It’s just very exciting to be part of a team,” she said.
This year was the first when she watched all the World Cup games. “In each game I learned something new,” she said, adding she will try to put the new lessons to use on the field.
“Your team’s your family,” said 14-year-old Jenna Karabin of New Jersey, with red and white stripes and the letters “USA” painted on her face. Of course, in her case that is literally the truth, since both her and her twin sister Lauren play for the Wall SC Wizards, a girl’s soccer team from New Jersey.
They’ve been playing soccer since “forever,” said Jenna. That is, at least since they were three. They have two more sisters, one 18, the other 21, and yes, both of them also play soccer, or at least used to. In fact, the younger one was with them at the parade, together with their mother and a couple more fellow players.
The championship win means a lot to all of them. “They’re like role models to us,” Lauren said, of the girls on the national team.
“Normally we see all the boys,” Jenna exclaimed in a coarse voice. “It’s about the girls this day.”
And what has the success of the American team sparked in them? “Dreams. Don’t give up. Confidence. You have to play as a team,” the girls cried one over the other. The fact that some of the players on the national team are actually from New Jersey makes them all the more relatable to the aspiring youth.
And so, the celebrations continue, and the message to our girls and anyone aiming high continues to be: hard work pays off. Congrats Team USA! Take note, girls of the world!