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“Being in the States myself, I think that definitely had an impact,” she said. “You just notice that playing together you can achieve much more. You can see that in the States. That’s an interesting combination, the team spirit and the individual fighters. You’re never playing alone. You’re playing as a team.”—Sarina Wiegman, the Women’s Netherland’s soccer coach, via an interview with The Los Angeles Times prior to the World Cup Final match
The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team made history Sunday evening in Lyon, France, and demonstrated emphatically many other truths as well.
If you had the opportunity to watch it live, the first half was a nail-biter, as it was a defensive juggernaut with neither the Netherlands or the United States being able to score a goal. But what became immediately clear was the comparison of number of times each team passed the ball, even surpassing the time of total possession: The United States passed the ball in far greater numbers throughout the entire match.
By no means am I a soccer expert, but what resonated with me not only being a college athlete, but having watched sports off and on for years was that the goal (pun intended) was for the team to win however that opportunity presented itself.
I appreciated the quote above because while the United States is not unique regarding teamwork when it comes to success in high level team sports, they are dominant, and that speaks to a unique conglomeration of individuals willing to work hard, and most importantly work for the team’s benefit, letting each other’s individual talent shine, so that all can be raised when the team ultimately succeeds. And the beautiful part is that they each did contribute their strengths. Carli Lloyd was one of the top names that became instantly recognizable after the Women claimed their third World Cup victory five years ago. This year, with the abundance of young talent available, she now plays a small, but none less significant role.
I began to compare the model Jill Ellis’ team (by the way, Ellis is the first women’s coach in World Cup history to coach a team to back-to-back championships, and second behind Italy’s men’s coach Victorio Pozzo) to other arenas in which a determined group of individuals of many varied strengths steps forward together, works together and chooses instead of trying to be the top individual themselves, steps forward and shines as they are as it is best fits the situation and also encourages and supports others to do the same.
The clear social movement was vocally expressed in the arena as The New York Times reported with fans of chanting “Equal Pay” after their win. Not only does their history making victory cement, if it wasn’t already, the deserving of equal pay, but especially as it appeals to women and all of the different life paths we may wish to choose, we need to support each other as we actually do pursue different and diverse paths.
Once equal pay, once support of all different life paths for women and all individuals is fully supported, the choice of how to live will be uniquely made by each person, but at least it will be made and not coerced or socially nudged, thereby enabling each of explore a path that will support true contentment.
Such a conversation arose during one of the handful of long dinners this past week in France. At the table were women from different backgrounds and exemplifying different life paths from the United States as well as a few men from Europe, and our conversation brought to everyone’s attention that there are indeed different ways to live life and enjoy the life we have chosen. There are also different paths we may acquiesce to choosing in order to not go against the norm that actually hides our talents, that is not beneficial not only to us, but instead society at large. After all, we each have something unique to share with the world that can contribute to the greater good, but if we narrow the choices, we dim that potential. Not only will we short-change ourselves and our life experience, we short-change the world.