Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Let the Games Begin...

Monday marked the official start of the Women’s World Cup 2007. We started the day as always with breakfast and training. The atmosphere at breakfast was riddled with excitement. The Australian crew was getting ready for their big day. Our training was light on Monday because we were scheduled to referee the following day. So we had a warm-up followed by sprints and stretching. Whilst the others started their practical training, we walked around the university campus where we have been training. The campus is quite quaint despite being nestled in the middle of a large concrete jungle. There are many trees and a stream that runs through the middle. It is an oasis for the students and visitors alike. We stopped to take a quick photo with the statue of Mao Tse-tung and then proceeded to meander through the campus for about 30 minutes before returning to the hotel.

At 5:45pm, we departed for the opening ceremonies. We had a bus full of eager spectators. When we arrived at the stadium, we were ushered to the VIP area where we were treated to some snacks.

The opening ceremonies began at approximately 6:30pm. There were numerous performers including dancers and singers, but by far our favorites were the girls dressed as soccer balls whom we had met earlier in the week.

The theme of the opening ceremonies was “The Power of Beauty”.

Many of the performers were women or girls, but probably the most moving portion of the opening ceremonies was Sun Wen running to the stage along a long red carpet, being hoisted up to the mock-up of the WWC trophy and placing a silver soccer ball appropriately to complete the trophy. It reminded us of the Olympic torch being lit. Sun Wen was a superstar both in China and in the World. She was awarded the prestigious FIFA player of the century award in 2000 and is now a FIFA ambassador. Shanghai is Sun Wen's home town so it was fitting to have her "light the torch" for the opening ceremonies. It was a great tribute to the past and future of women’s football. Fireworks lit the sky over the stadium and the crowd erupted as the ceremonies concluded marking the start of the WWC 2007.

Let the games begin….

The match started at 8pm – Germany vs. Argentina. The tournament is always kicked off by the team who won the previous WWC which in this case was Germany. Germany was far too strong for Argentina, but I don't think anyone could have predicted the final score – 11-0. Records had fallen: the most decisive WWC victory ever, two players scoring hat tricks which has only happened once before and Birgit Prinz moving to the top of the list of goal scorers at WWC events alongside our own, Michelle Akers. We would have liked to see a more competitive match, but nevertheless, it was a fantastic evening and quite a thrill!