We're just days away from the start of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France and with all of the headlines surrounding the US Women's National Team lately, there are so many different reasons to be excited for kickoff this summer. If you like soccer, have never watched the women's world cup before, or don't watch soccer in general, definitely make sure to try and catch some of the action this summer from June 7-July 7.
1. There are 4 teams competing for the first time.
South Africa, Jamaica, Scotland, and Chile will all be competing in this year's Women's World Cup for the first time. The excitement surrounding these teams has been growing and it will be amazing to see what these teams will pull off in their first time competing on this massive, world stage.
2. This World Cup is said to be the strongest field in history.
This summer will be the 8th ever Women's World Cup and the field of teams that have qualified all have a shot at taking down the US Women's National Team, the defending champions. From powerhouses and former World Cup winners like the United States, Japan, and Germany to up and coming teams like England, the Netherlands, and Spain, this year's field will feature the best female players in the world.
3. The story behind the Jamaican national team.
This year's World Cup will be the first time that Jamaica will be competing in a Women's World Cup. Jamaica is also the first Carribean country to qualify for the Women's World Cup and the story of them getting there is nothing short of inspiring. The team known as the "Reggae Girlz" is making a statement five years after the Jamaican government cut their funding and got rid of the team. With the help of benefactors and fundraisers, most notably Bob Marley's eldest daughter Cedella Marley, the team was able to secure funds to start again and even reach a World Cup. It will be exciting to see what the "Reggae Girlz" can accomplish this summer competing in a tough group stage against Italy, Brazil, and Australia.
4. Many of the teams in this year's field are fighting for equality.
In recent years, women's soccer has made strides in fighting for equality and the respect that they deserve. Most notably the US Women's National Team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the US soccer federation for unfair treatment. The difference in the treatment between the men's and women's team is staggering, especially when it comes to pay. The women's team has won 3 times (1991,1999, and 2015) while the men have never won and did not even qualify for last year's World Cup. It's inspiring to see how the USWNT (US Women's National Team) has fought for equality but they are not the only ones in this fight. Chile, which is making its first appearance, has fought for funding after the team did not play a game from 2014-2017 (nytimes). Italy is returning after a 2-decade absence from the Women's World Cup, caused in large part by an increase in funding. Argentina is also fighting for equality and returning to the World Cup for the first time since 2007, after players striking against the Federation for a lack of support. It's inspiring to see so many of these athletes are transcending boundaries and fighting for equality in this year's Women's World Cup.
5. The US Women's National Team...duh!
The 2015 defending champions will be back ready to take on the world in France this summer. This team is LOADED, with stars such as Alex Morgan, Mallory Pugh, Julie Ertz, and veteran Carli Llyod. At 36 it is likely that this year will be Llyod's last World Cup and even though she now subs off of the bench, be ready for her to make her mark after her historic performance in 2015's final game. 2019 is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of the "99's" World Cup win in 1999 when pioneers such as Mia Hamn, Julie Foudy, and Brandi Chastain won that historic game. With what is being called one of the most talented teams in USWNT history, it will be exciting to see what the US can pull off this summer. The US will kickoff action against Thailand at 3pm Eastern time on Tuesday, June 11th.
So, what now? In order to get ready for the Women's World Cup, I highly recommend listening to the Men in Blazers podcast. In two of their recent pods, they have interviewed USWNT stars Alex Morgan and Crystal Dunn to talk about soccer, equality, and so much more. You can listen to them on Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud @ Men In Blazers. I also recommend watching "23 stories" which can be found on the USWNT Twitter Page. In "23 stories" each of the USWNT players talk about an experience that has shaped them and how they got to where they are today. Happy listening and watching!