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The crowd erupted with cheers as Brandi Chastain scored the final penalty kick for the U.S. women’s soccer team.
“I remember everything. I was in the nosebleed section and it was really hot out. There were so many people at the game,” said junior Kirstin Radlinski, goalie for the CU women’s soccer team.
Many fans remember the moment the U.S. won the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup vividly. In fact, it was the most-attended women’s sports event in history. The team won in the U.S., playing the final in Pasadena, Calif., which stirred up a wave of publicity.
For an entire generation of female soccer players, the U.S. women’s victory in 1999 was an incredibly inspiring and memorable event. Many players on the CU women’s soccer team remember watching the final match on TV, but Radlinski was able to attend the game.
“They were playing right next to my hometown. It was the biggest thing in the world for me to be there for that game,” Radlinski said.
The 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup is currently taking place in China, with the final match scheduled for Sept. 30. The U.S. women defeated the Chinese team in the final of the 1999 World Cup, which was a scoreless game that ended in the famous penalty kick shoot-out.
The 1999 team included such stars as Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm, whom many players still idolize.
“I think every young player identifies with Mia Hamm and the other women on that team,” said Nikki Marshall, sophomore forward.
Other players found strengths in themselves that they saw in the women of the U.S. team.
“My favorite was always Tiffeny Milbrett,” said Allison Kidd, a senior forward. “She’s a really small player, just like me. She really got stuff done though, which was so inspiring to me.”
Many of the women who played on the U.S. team in 1999 saw the impact they had on the lives of young girls, who were interested in soccer. They were able to become role models for the girls who wanted to be like them.
“I really identified with Julie Foudy more than anyone else because I went to her soccer camp. You watch those players so much that it really gives you a chance to associate with them,” said Michelle Wenino, a junior defender.
The women of the 1999 team also had a profound effect on the way the American public viewed soccer, especially the women’s side of the sport.
“There isn’t really a soccer culture here in the U.S. like there is in rest of the world. Women’s soccer is growing exponentially here now,” Marshall said.
Women’s soccer has become a more popular sport with a massive following of fans, giving young players hope for the future.
“I remember thinking that after this, people won’t ignore the sport ever again,” Kidd said.
In addition to inspiring young players, the U.S. team created an opportunity for improvement within the sport. Since the 1999 World Cup, the talent of U.S. teams has only continued to grow.
“Women’s soccer has grown as far as the quality of the players that are being developed based on the fact that there was someone to look up to,” Head Coach Bill Hempen said.
Not only does women’s World Cup soccer give players role models to follow, but it also gives them drive to accomplish their own goals. The 2007 U.S. team has the potential to be an inspiration to a whole new generation of players, just as it was in 1999.
“I thought, if they can do it, I definitely can,” Kidd said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Amanda Walck at email@example.com