Back in 2013 I was casually reading about sport in Toronto and came across an article about the then upcoming 2015 World Cup that was taking place in Canada, and that the largest city in Canada wasn't hosting any matches due to the upcoming Pan American games in 2015. I was excited, and looked to Connie to see if we could arrange a holiday to Canada for the same time as the games to go and see some. The only problem was Joni's birth meant that we either go earlier and miss her first birthday there, or save it for later. That's what we've decided.
I mentioned it recently in passing to a friend, one of my closest friends and biggest football fans, saying "Can't wait for the World Cup to start" and his response was "What World Cup?". That's not that surprising mind you - the support on TV of the World Cup - that's the "Women's" World Cup - seemed scant. Not even a mention on radio, a tiny bit hidden off on the BBC site, and despite there being some games on TV, most have been pushed out of the schedule onto Online Only or somewhere else.
I have two problems with this. The first is that it keeps being called the fucking "Women's" World Cup. That really pisses me off for a load of reasons, the main one being that the other FIFA World Cup isn't called the "Men's" anywhere, just being "The World Cup" which makes the 2015 edition lesser. Secondly, calling it the "Women's World Cup" makes it less likely for a male watcher to settle in to watch, as it wrongly suggests it's For Women. It's a strange bit of terminolgy that other sports don't have - there isn't a "women's" Wimbledon; there's just Wimbledon, with the ladies AND the men's equally named. The finals are named for the geneder separation. Either you have it or you don't.
The second is that female football is and should be on the rise in the UK. If anything, the UK is the one place that it lags behind, for whatever reason. I want Joni to grow up thinking she can do anything she wants, in sport or in a professional capacity, even if the world still thinks she is worth less than a man. For her, I imagine seeing sports with men and women being treated equally, something as a kid I never saw. Dancing, hockey and netball were all girls sports, and football and... well, that's really it for boys when I was young was only for boys. I think I would have thought very differently if I knew and was encouraged to play sports that I might have been pretty good at - I loved playing Hockey (that's Field Hockey for the Canadians reading) at Scouts, and I wish I had played it at school. The only sport we played equally at school was fucking softball, Christ.
There is the amazing story of a female kicker aiming to hit the NFL Combine sadly ended by injury, as the NFL has no rules to say that women can't play. Just in April the first female official was hired by the league. The "issue" is that all the routes to get to the Pro League are pretty predicated on you proving your worth - which, to be honest, is the fairest system. The idea that a female player good enough would make it is fascinating. FIFA, on the other hand, actually excludes in the rules directly.
Then there's the nonsensical bullshit that the tournament has had. First of all, the grouping was done incorrectly (or at least unfairly, in my mind). Instead of drawing the teams out of a bowl of seeded teams to randomly come up with an order (as is done in the "Mens" tournament), the order was already decided ahead of time. This means that the seeded teams, who are expected to come top, are going to avoid each other thanks to the bracketing. Additionally, all the stadiums have artificial surfaces for some fucking reason. Imagine the uproar if they said that had to be the case in 2018!
Though look at me! Expecting FIFA to not be a shower of shit. Still, there is hope. FIFA16, the next instalment in the forever continuing series of computer games, has decided to include female teams for the fist time (though credit for that should be EA Sports, who recognised the massive 51% world population as an untapped market). Thank fuck.
I've actually not watching as much live as I had hoped I would this time round; the games are starting too late thanks to the time-zone issue. But I've watched a lot of the highlights of the tournament.
I want it to be successful, and I want it to grow. Be the change you want to see in the world.