Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beyond Words

Okay, before I forget, there was a really cool article featuring Kari that came out today. If you have some time, it really is worth reading.

Wow, first Women's World Cup game in the books for me and VP. This really is an experience beyond words, but I'll try my best.

After a leisurely morning spent mentally preparing for the match, we were driven to the stadium by a fellow FIFA referee from Germany who we knew from previous tournaments. It was really nice to catch up and travel with someone who understands the pressures of the referees.

We also lucked out in having one of the closest venues possible which allowed us to spend the night at "home." Along the way to the field, we picked up a police escort for the last leg of the journey.

Since we had done our pre-game meeting last night, we had plenty of time at the stadium to take care of all the details like checking the field, checking the ball pressures, working out a few logistics of the stadium, and warming up.

We had a great fourth official who seemed to always be one step ahead and anticipated what we would need as a team. It was really nice to work with someone who was so on top of things and it gave us the luxury of spending all of our time focusing on the actual match.

When we were warming up, we noticed that the temperature was quite a bit warmer than during the training sessions since we arrived. I lucked out, and just as the game was getting going, the shade shifted just enough so that I was always in the shade. For a good portion of the game, the fourth official and I had a different climate from the rest of the team. We estimated that Veronica's side was probably 10 degrees warmer than we're used to (Fahrenheit, don't worry, we haven't allowed ourselves to be lured over to that whole Celsius thing completely yet).

It's strange how time seems to play tricks on you. When were getting ready for the game and driving to the field, and even a little bit while warming up, time seemed to move slowly. We were all looking forward to this match and it's kind of like Christmas morning when you can't wait for the moment to arrive. Things started to change when we were in the tunnel and during the walk out to the field. Somehow, time seemed to move both quickly and slowly. It seemed like each moment was experienced fully, the sounds of the crowd, the excitement of the players lining up behind us, the swell of emotion as the music behand to play and we stepped out onto the field, the national anthems, shaking the players' hands, and the coin toss. Everything was a full experience in and of itself, but suddenly it was over and we were running towards the nets for one last check. Then the game began.

For me, the match flew by. Like with the opening, each individual moment of the match seems so clear and crips in my head, but I couldn't believe it when the clock suddenly said 81:26. How could it have gone by so quickly? I remember the feel of that first run down the field, talking over the communication system to discuss match situations, and so many other things, but it felt like the game was over in a flash. When the final whistle blew, there were dualing emotions. Partly there was the thrill of successfully completing a match at the Women's World Cup. At the same time, there was this feeling of never wanting this to end. Even hours later, reliving the experience, I have goose bumps.

After the match, we caught up reading all the wonderful emails of support on our ride back home to the hotel. It's a special feeling to know there are so many people back home with us in spirit as we step onto the field.

Of course, this was not Kari's first game at the Women's World Cup. In fact, we have been told that by officiating this match, Kari has now officiated at more World Cups than any other referee. Other officials have done three World Cups, but this is Kari's FOURTH WOMEN"S WORLD CUP!!!!!!!!! It really is a privilege for me and Veronica as rookies to work our first game with her and share this experience.

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