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My daughters and I have been watching the Women's World Cup by tape delay over the last couple of weeks. Although we were disappointed by the loss of the USA team to Brazil last week in the semi-finals, it was still great fun to watch the games. Brazil plays with all the passion and heat you'd expect from Brazilians. They have some amazing talent, including a 21 year old who is possibly the best woman playing the game at present. Marta as so amazing to watch that you can't help but appreciate the way she dances with the ball as if it were part of her own body. Great athletes are like that. It is pure art. It is Michael Jordan with a basketball. Its a skill level that transcends everyone around them - even those at the very top of the heap.
We watched the end of that game tonight on the 6 foot projection screen using the In Focus projector I bought last year. I'd recorded the games in HD on my DVR, and playback was via SVIDEO cable and clear as a bell. Not technically HD playback, but damn good. After the end of that game, we watched the USA women beat Norway, then watched Germany beat Brazil.
Some comments on the styles of play. They vary a great deal.
The USA women were finally relaxed and playing with cool heads and joy, and it showed in the game against Norway. They'd shrugged off the completely caustic remarks of teammate Hope Solo after the loss to Brazil, and with the pressure of being the leader off did nicely against Norway. Sadly, the best word I can use for these women of the USA team is "moody". Their confidence shatters too easily and the pressure of leading clearly was more than they could handle. Remove the pressure and bring back the joy and they once again dominate. They'll need to get past that at some point. I can sympathize with how Hope Solo felt, but cannot condone her outspoken comments. They go against everything I try to teach my kids about sportsmanship. In so many respects, they play like Americans.
I'd mentioned already that the Brazilians play with fire and passion. They are totally unpredictable and so finely skilled they they're deadly from any direction. Their style is fast and hot, improvisational and as sudden as a snake bite. They don't even play much as a team. They hadn't played in three years until they had to defend their previous titles. Apparently in Brazil they get little or no support compared to the men. One commentator mentioned that the game is so beloved there could be a thousand girls just like Marta out there undiscovered; waiting only for a strong feeder program to dominate the game. In so many respects, they play like Brazilians.
The Germans were interesting to watch. They're big, athletic, serious women -- maybe a little cold and dispassionate to watch. They are as efficient as steel though, and play like a machine. They hold formation, chip away at the defense, stick tight to every curve the game takes -- and wait for their opponent to make the smallest mistake. Give them even the smallest opening however, the most minute imperfection, and they are lightening fast and ruthlessly efficient in taking advantage of it. They play like Germans.
Funny how our stereotypes hold some insights sometimes. My girls and I learned a thing or two about this beautiful game watching all this. I've caught Ari trying out some of the things she's seen. Not so much successfully yet, but that will take time.
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