A World Cup played for all the right reasons

by Ashley Morrison on Jun 16, 2011

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Five years ago landing in Germany it would have been unheard of to have an international football team arrive at a major airport with no fanfare, but that was how it was when the Westfield Matilda’s arrived in Frankfurt this morning.

Looking remarkably fresh from their long Qantas flight from Sydney, the girls made their way through the airport terminal to their waiting transport unhindered.

At the bus both players and management helped load all of the bags into the hold before heading on the long drive north to Gottingen, their base leading into the tournament.

There were only a few people inquisitive enough to stop to ask if they were a football team and if so which team were they; a far cry from the Socceroos back in 2006.

Yet on arrival at Gottingen, they were met by a mass of children waving Australian flags and scrambling for autographs. Local reporters surrounded Tom Sermanni and asked questions about players who in fact were unable to make the trip, but it was nice to know that people were interested.

There is no way that the Women’s World Cup will ever match the figures of the men’s version in Germany four years ago. 3,359,439, spectators attended 64 games in 12 stadia, and a further 18 million fans watched games in Fan Festival venues.

It is unlikely that the consuming of 93,000 gallons of beer will be matched or the 46,000 gallons of non-alcoholic drinks, or 3.5 million sausages will be consumed, but the lack of atmosphere or even awareness of the tournament is disappointing.

As great as ticket sales have been for the tournament – the opening game between Germany and Canada in Berlin having sold out weeks ago - there are very few visible signs that a World Cup is due to commence in 11 days time.

Germany is the favourite to retain their title on home soil and become the first team in the men’s or women’s game to win the World Cup three times in succession.

Interestingly, the German people appear to be not so sure that this would be a good thing, many stating quite openly that their team has become ‘cold and arrogant,’ traits that they do not embrace.

They may well be onto something, as the key to the Women’s World Cup since its inception has been the honest endeavor of its participants. Those who take part are undoubtedly as dedicated and as professional as their male counterparts; some maybe more dedicated, as they have to juggle work or studies while pursuing their dream. However the women’s game does not suffer the flagrant play-acting that plagues the male game. The tackles are hard and competitive, and the girls, in the main, shrug them off, jump up, and get on with the game.

The skill of some is equally enthralling and enjoyable to watch as their male counterparts, and the ‘all for one, one for all’ attitude is refreshing to witness. There are no high paid prima donnas in the women’s game and it is so much richer for it, even if the players aren’t.

Australia, as AFC Asian Women’s Cup winners are a very close unit. They are a team that many discount as genuine challengers for the cup, but are definitely a team that many are wary of. Now they have arrived, the final pieces of their preparation are being put in place by coach Tom Sermanni, with friendlies against Mexico and England just around the corner.

Ashley Morrison is in Germany filming a documentary on the two Aboriginal girls in the squad, Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon, called “No Apologies.” You can follow his journey on facebook or at his website