Check Out Our Ladies

Yes that shameful headline is intended to maximize hits by luring in some possibly pervy Google searchers. Sadly, such is the lot of Canadian soccer: we have to garner interest any way we can. No slight at all is intended to the wonderful gals of our Women’s national team. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Tonight marks the kickoff, literally, of the Canadian women’s quest for simultaneous Gold Cup glory and a berth in the 2011 Women’s World Cup. And it’s our duty as soccer-loving Canucks to support them, if not by shooting on down to Cancun (as if we actually needed more reason to go to Cancun on a blustery October day), then at least by watching them play.

It’s a sad paradox within the world of Canadian soccer fandom that support for the men’s team comes naturally to us – even though they often make it very hard, by being not very good – and support for the women is excruciatingly difficult to muster – even though the women are amongst the best in the world, miles ahead of the men in their relative ability to compete on a world stage.

It’s no surprise, really: Women’s sports generally suffer from a dearth of support when compared to their male equivalent. But that’s no excuse: If you’re a supporter of Canadian soccer, and wish – as so many of us do – to see the game develop beyond the frustrating rut it’s been in for years, it falls on you to support the women as well as the men.

This is not just rhetoric, by the way, not just supporting for moral reasons or for supporting’s sake: rooting for the women’s team can only help the national program as a whole. First and foremost, there’s money in it. Wins mean advancement, more games more broadcast fees, more ticket sales and – hopefully – more prize money. There’s not a lot of money in the women’s game, I grant, but there is some, and the cash-strapped CSA can use every dime it can get. Whatever we get goes into the pot, and could mean the difference, say, between a friendly against a second-tier opponent (with the resulting lower amount of public interest, fewer tickets sold, less chance of Canadian broadcast and less chance of helping the program move forward) and a top-tier opponent, with all the benefits (beyond a 5-0 drubbing) that would come with that.

What’s more, the Women’s Gold Cup (and the Women’s World Cup) is televised (or internet-avised, at least). It’s always a bit of a ratings risk when Canadian TV chooses to broadcast a Canadian soccer game – that’s why they do it so rarely – and women’s soccer must be doubly so. The CBC is far and away the best supporter of soccer in this country, even if the games are usually confined to the website and the shady “CBC Bold.” But be sure – the CBC pays attention to who’s watching, and if a women’s game gets decent ratings on a Friday evening, it can’t hurt the prospects of convincing the powers that be when the V’s call for someone to put the MNT v Lithuania on TV.

I could also go into the pool of support for the women’s game, and huge potential for growing the game through the soccer-loving girls of this country, but Squizz has already done so much better than I can.

In the end, there’s a more simple and direct reason to support the Canadian women for the next couple of weeks and beyond: they’re good enough to deserve your support. You don’t need to consider how the women’s team’s success or failure could help the men’s team because supporting the women is worth it in and of itself. CSG’s Squizz found, in his interview with Canadian captain – and Women’s World Player of the Year finalist – Christine Sinclair, that the women are a team in the best sense of the word, and have confidence in themselves and each other. As well they should: Their victory at this year’s Cyprus Cup handed Canada an all-too-rare bit of soccer silverware, and they backed it up with an electric 3-1 friendly win over China in September – the first ever Canadian victory at BMO Field.

The bottom line is if you can struggle through a horrendously choppy non-English web feed to see the MNT fall 3-0 to Macedonia, surely you can tune in tonight to watch Sinclair & Co. trounce Trinidad and Tobago.

6 p.m. EST on cbc.ca, replayed at 9:30 p.m. on CBC Bold (but we’ll all be drunkenly celebrating victory by then, right?)

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One Response to “Check Out Our Ladies”

  1. Don’t know if you’re going to do a match review but CONCACAF linesmen are either a) blind or b) do not understand the offside rule. Tancredi got a hattrick and 2 ruled offside. So frustrating.

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