Why the NWSL & Championship game was so special
The NWSL championship was not just another game, it was so much more than that.
We have another report from this month’s NWSL Championship in the spirit of the season of gratitude: Phuoc shares the thoughts of the players on the impact of the NWSL as a whole, and how the tenth Championship game of the league carries so much significance for them
Although there were professional leagues before, the National Women’s Soccer League started in 2013 and has skyrocketed in popularity and stature, especially in the past few World Cup cycles.
Speaking with players at Media Day, I noticed a trend. Many of them truly didn’t believe that professional soccer was even possible and didn’t have many female athletes to look up to.
The NWSL gives them a league to live out their dreams, but the Championship gives them a platform to shine on the biggest stage of them all.
During Media Day, I spoke to OL Reign and NJ/NY Gotham FC players about the once in a lifetime event, about their dreams, and why the NWSL & Championship is so important for them.
Star GK/M/F - Nealy Martin: Yeah, I mean, I think you you said it best. It's, it's a huge dream, and you know, every soccer player would probably dream of doing in the US. So I'm grateful to be here. And for me, it's, you know, I give all the glory to God. And I'm just so grateful for the position that I'm in and mostly also to the club for getting us here. I think their investment in you know, the vision that Juan has brought to the team is huge. And it's shown.
ROTY Jenna Nighswonger: Yeah, I think like I've wanted to play professionally since I was like, pretty young. So it's just so exciting to be in this moment. And I think, Juan talks about it with like, taking the time to like, soak it all in and really enjoy where I'm at, because like, who knows what next year, and like the next few years are gonna bring so just yeah, trying to stay in the moment and like, really enjoy it and play for like, our younger selves, I guess on Saturday.
Ellie Jean: Yeah, I really, it's really interesting being here, because we've been training at Chula Vista. I was going to Chula Vista 10 years ago, like every month with the youth national team. So being there was like super weird and like, reminiscent in a way. And it's like, wow, if I know, if I knew then what I know now like that I would be here again, but like within an NWSL team and like training there, and we're going to the championship like I would have never thought. So it's really fun to reminisce in that way.
Kristen Edmonds: I mean, yeah, this is my second final in two years. You know, this is why you play the game. Obviously, it's fun for us. And you know, we want to do well, we want to win games. But, you know, when it comes down to it, you want to win championships and be in championships. We’re competitors at the end of the day, and we compete for trophies, so being here is awesome. It's amazing. It's so fun, but we're definitely here to get the job done.
Taryn Torres: Ever since I started playing soccer, it's always like the championship and winning. That's the most important thing and the most fun thing. And then in college, like the goal is to win the national championship. Never got to do that. So here having another chance to win a championship is super exciting. And especially last year, being my first year in the league being in last place. It's a it's cool to be now competing to be the best.
Gotham’s star right back, Bruninha, took it even further.
Bruninha: I've been very lucky that one thing led to the other. You know, I was playing the World Cup but before that I was champion of U-20 and to ensure that I know this moment right now is a transition from youth to professionals already playing these kind of challenge to it being coming here and adapting to the American way and that is also adding to my own skills. So that's why we leave our team, so we're going to do this.