Over the course of this month, there was another World Cup being played out.. in China, that was called FIFA Women's World Cup. It had caught my attention on its very first day when Germany walloped Argentina in an unanswered eleven goal riot. It only set up a tournament in which traditional football playing nations showcased what their women could do with a football, in a way as potent as their male compatriots.
Moments of brilliance did not elude this version of the game either, as the girls pulled out some of the most pleasing pieces of talent one could hope to see on a football field. There was one special moment in the quarterfinal when Cristiane (seen in the picture choking Daniela and Marta) stole the lead (and the game) from Australia.. that was pure magic. Images of a young Mickael Owen pecked one's mind when the not-so-young Martina Müller shot past the defense in the semifinals to deposit the ball into the net. It is a beautiful game, they say.
The World Cup had its Final today evening and it was only fitting to see the two best performers in the series making it to the grand stage. Brazil, quite assumedly joined Germany, with a little history waiting to be written.
Nadine Angerer, the brilliant German goalie had not conceded one goal throughout the series, and today, even the two most inimitable forwards in women's football could do nothing to change that. It was almost ironical that the Golden Boot winner, Marta missed the penalty to equalize on this day. Hands covering her mouth, she winced.. but only for second. Shaking her head, she moved away. Then clapped her hands together a minute later, urging her team for one more breakaway. It never came..
The Germans won, after one more goal. The stadium exploded in celebration, and animation presented some of its most delightful faces in their camp.
Amidst all the excitement and sheer verve around though, your eyes would often stop on one individual who seemed to wear a blanket of serenity.. probably one woven of content and reflection. I was introduced to Birgit Prinz through a football show a few weeks back as something of an embodiment of German women's soccer. She was that and a lot more in this World Cup. The picture here probably sums her up more than words could ever.
The night also saw some of the most heartbreaking scenes of the Brazilians after the 0-2 loss. A young team which played its heart out, giggling and almost dancing its way to the Final, only to come up one short.. and was left to wonder what a surrogate mother a game could be when you lose. It was one those moments you see in a game, when you wish there could be just one more winner. There is beauty in tragedy too, the Greeks say; may be today.
One team gloated and celebrated, most deservedly and quite fittingly. As another forgot to check the tears that rolled down their cheeks.
That is football, I guess. There is always a stage somewhere.. with a ball on the grass and people seeing meaning in kicking it around.