Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It's football, but not as we know it.

Football in the Olympics. There is possibly no other way you could have made the beautiful game less appealing to so many people.

Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if it didn't involve creating a brand new team for us to support. I say support, a large number of their catchment area wanted to see failure from the off.
In all honesty, i had only a small flicker of interest in Stuart Pearce's Team GB when the former England international named his first 'long list' and included the name of our very own Chris Solly on it.
Once Solly had failed to make the next stage the whole affair was dropped from my radar, except for a small moment when i clicked on a JD sports advert for the Team GB kit.
That was a mistake, it's up there with Joe Hart's green 'spearmint' keepers shirt for vulgarity. Oh well, i won't have to look at it again.

Due, i believe, to fixture congestion, the Olympic football competition started before the tournaments opening ceremony. Scotland played their part in what was already feeling like a possible fiasco, destroying any chance of Korean peace by showing the Southern flag whilst the Northern players took to the pitch.
Funniest tweet of the day said that this is why Scotland can never have Independence, they always embarrass themselves on the world stage!
Fortunately for national pride, the opening ceremony was a great spectacle and huge success, as has been the rest of the Olympics the past week and a bit.

Curiosity not only finished of the moggy but also got the better of me as i found myself tuning into Team GB's first match against Senegal.
With no songs to sing and a crowd predominantly made up of school children, it was no surprise that the Theatre of Dreams was quieter than an MK Dons fixture at Craven Cottage.
The saving grace as far as the actual match went was my correct score prediction in a Peaceful Hooligan facebook competition, not that i won anyway!

And so that was it for me. My little interest at the beginning had wained even further and i wasn't to watch another Team GB kick in the competition.
My Olympic viewing was almost over before the thing was officially underway. I'm glad to say I've seen plenty of other sports since as i have followed suit with the rest of the country and found myself carried along by the 'feel good' factor of our country's success.

With so little enthusiasm for the men's competition, you can imagine how interested i was to note the ladies had a go as well.

I know very little about women's football.
I believe Charlton have a side who were once rather good at it, making a couple of cup finals a few years ago.
I've heard of Faye White as she was born in this small town i now find myself living in.
There was a film called Bend It Like Beckham where girls played football.
That's it.

I'm the first to own up that it's a very chauvinistic view. Girls have netball and hockey don't they?
It's not that i mind them playing football, just don't expect me to watch it, it's all too nice. What sort of banter can you have with the opposition fans at a women's match? It's just too different from what i know, a little out of my comfort zone perhaps.

Not great morals, or a good stance to adopt on the sport i grant you. In fact i felt slightly guilty just typing it, but you'll be happy to know my views are changing.
I watched a women's football match last night and i enjoyed it!

Why i switched it on i really don't know, more out of boredom than anything i suspect, but I'm glad i did.
A North American quarter final battle between old rivals Canada and the USA, both these nations appear to be stronger in women's football than in the men's game. I've since learnt that the USA are the major force in the sport.

There was nothing cagey about this match, both sides setting off at a cracking pace, keen to put an early stamp on proceedings and take control of the game.
Good flowing football, played in a good spirit. The challenges were hard yet fair, some girls really didn't hold back, and although there were schoolboy errors occasionally, they were spread evenly between the two sides.
If I'd been playing with them i fear I'd have looked like a girl amongst women, they were both fit and technically very able.

I was also impressed with their resilience. When they went behind, the Americans never gave up, no matter how often it happened, and the Canadians never looked like settling with just being in front and always looked to increase their lead.
On an individual level, the girls got back onto their feet as quickly as they were knocked off them. Even when they really were hurt they refused to make a meal of it, in much the same way as they do when they catch a cold!

The Canadian number 11 looked like her leg was snapped backwards in one challenge during extra time. This appeared at first glance to be the sort of injury that ends your season but this girl came straight back on again and ran it off. Huge respect.

With about thirty seconds of stoppage time left at the end of extra time, and the cruelty of a penalty shoot out looming, A lovely headed goal won it for the USA, the first time they had led in the whole match. It was very cruel on Canada, but a great goal to give them a 4-3 victory.
I couldn't tell you the scorers name, i refused to get 'that' into it!
If you've got a spare moment and want to see the highlights you can watch them here, you'll be surprised.

When i think of all the 0-0's I've sat through over the years, I'd have taken this match any day. They can't all be like this though surely? Do they have bore draws in women's football?

I've discovered today for the first time that Charlton ladies have their own page on the CAFC website, you never know, one day i might even go and support them.

What i do know for certain, is they don't get photographed drunk leaving nightclubs, they don't all drive sports cars and i bet they don't sleep with each others boyfriends!

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