Olympics 2012 Women’s Soccer

The Olympics has received some pretty good coverage here in Japan, and given the politeness of their culture, it comes as no surprise that many Japanese athletes have displayed great sportsmanship.

I have always been a soccer fan, but I had always maintained that I much prefer playing soccer than watching it. I do enjoy watching soccer matches (for EPL I was a Liverpool fan, I just haven’t been following it recently) but there was just much more satisfaction playing soccer. I played soccer for 3 years in NUS for my hall, Temasek Hall. It is an excellent hall, we had amazing athletes and though I applied to the hall as a dancer, joining the soccer team was one of the highlights of my stay there.

This Olympics was my first time seriously watching women’s soccer matches. There is huge Nadeshiko fever here in Tokyo, which brings me to my first point!

Nadeshiko (なでしこジャパン)

Nadeshiko is the name of the Japanese Women’s Soccer team. More info can be found from that link above to their wiki page.
The first I had heard of Nadeshiko was that they flew economy class while the Japanese men’s team flew business to London for the Olympics. I was appalled that this kind of gender discrimination for an international event still exists! The article said though, that if the team wins, they will probably get to fly business home. So my friends and had been joking ever since, that we have to support Nadeshiko and hope these female athletes get a nicer ride back.

The first Nadeshiko match I watched was Japan vs Canada. While Canada was bigger and rougher, the Japanese team had excellent teamwork and some mad mad skills. I was well impressed when Japan won 2-1.

Then Japan played South Africa. This time I went to a sports bar to soak up the atmosphere. Their opponents started the game with 6 yellow cards, while the Japanese ladies had none, but again, excellent teamwork and skills. By the time they played France for the quarterfinals I had become a true blue (being the color of their jersey) Nadeshiko fan.

Some of my fave players include Sawa #10. This is her 4th Olympics and she has this calm presence on the field.

One can always recognize her by um, her long hair though. Seriously, Japan, your precious Nadeshiko needs a hair sponsor. (Unlike the mens team, many of these ladies take on other jobs like waitressing I think, to supplement their income.)

Are you freaking kidding me? This is the Women’s World Cup champions we are talking about here! Nadeshiko defeated USA in 2011 World Cup

Sawa cleaned up well when she was named FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, alongside the male winner, Messi in 2011.

More on Sawa’s accomplishments here She accepted her award in the traditional Japanese Kimono. How appropriate! Sawa plays midfield, which was also the position I played back then, albeit nowhere near her level.

My pick for MVP this Olympics though is goalie Fukumoto #1. Nothing can get past this woman! There were so many insane saves that she made and she always has this steady presence, she does not fret and you just know that she has her eyes her body her all focused on the ball. She reminds me of my goalie friend back in hall who was also on the Singapore National Women’s Volleyball team. She was a powerhouse and there was always a huge sense of security having her guarding the goal.

Then there is power scorers Ogimi #17 (that was my number) and Ohno. Defender Kinga #2 and captain, Miyama #8.

And in the spirit of good sportswomanship…

Thats Miyama with (I think) a French player after Japan defeated them in the semi-finals.

Watched the last 2 matches at a bar. The quarterfinals match against France garner more fans and a film crew as well, TBS Ch 6 was there at 1am with us all.

I have lots more to say about Nadeshiko, but this Japan Times Article sums it all up for me. I recommend it! All the reasons to root for Nadeshiko here – Why I am really cheering for Nadeshiko Japan to win.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Showing some Nadeshiko love here 🙂

This is all really making me miss playing soccer (or football, as my penpal used to correct me, “You are not American!” Yes, she’s British.) Im actually really excited about the finals tomorrow. Pretty grateful to be able to watch one of the most inspiring women’s football team in their native country. They are after all the first Asian World Cup Womens Soccer Champions.

I shall dig up my old soccer photos if possible and post it tomorrow WHEN NADESHIKO MEMBERS GET THEIR GOLD MEDAL! As I type this, Obara just won the 3rd Gold Medal for Japan in Womens Wrestling on my TV screen. I am taking this as a good sign 😀

I would love to play soccer again and I know many talented female players from Temasek, as well as from rival halls. Surely Singapore could build a great Asian women’s football team too.

Now point 2 very quickly.

Nobody expected Canada to win USA, but the Canadian women played an exceptional game! Christine Sinclair maintained the lead by scoring 3 beautiful goals against USA, one of them being a hat trick. And they are supposed to be the underdogs! I watched the game and re-watched it again… and twice I felt like the Canadians deserved to win. It was a heartbreaking loss. It might have been ok in my books if USA did not score the equalizer due to the strange, controversial, incomprehensible call by the referee Pedersen ( hey I dreamt that kelong referee was wearing American jersey and collecting silver medal with them) awarding a free kick followed immediately by penalty kick. You might as well go to the scoreboard and write 3-3, why go through the trouble of blowing the whistle?

Melissa Tancredi left an impression on me because she scored a goal against Nadeshiko, a nice one too. I also remember a hearing a Japanese person (not in a deliberate attempt to butcher her name) call her Tank-lady lol. I thought she handled the referee’s call with grace too. Anyways here is some news about FIFA deciding not to penalize Canadian players after they were robbed for speaking honestly to the media after their heartbreaking loss.

I did think that Japan would play USA in the finals. But I think the underdogs, Canada, more than proved themselves playing against the USA yesterday. In my books, it would be right to have Canada VS Japan in the finals. So before staying up to watch Nadeshiko finals tomorrow, I will definitely be rooting for Canada to win the bronze medal.

My close cousins migrated to Canada when I was younger, time to dig out some old tee shirts from Canada they gave me… oh shoot! They are back home in Singapore! I only have two Canadian friends here in Tokyo, one is an actor, back in Vancouver for the summer and another will also be away on a work trip so I guess it is just me.

Right. Time to catch some sleep, Ive never been so excited to watch any international sports event before. CANADA FOR THE BRONZE AND JAPAN FOR THE GOLD WOMENS SOCCER! Cheers to all 3 inspiring teams of female players 🙂


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