Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Did the Cold War Ever Really End?

USA vs. Russia Game
Pregame thoughts

According to history, the Cold War officially ended in 1991. Since then, Russia and the United States have formed an amendable and diplomatic friendship. However, the Cold War exists in the world of Women’s Deaf Soccer and it has not ended. Nor is the end near. Since the beginning of Women’s Deaf Soccer (2005 AD), Russia and USA have always exchanged intense fury on and off the field. Our games against Russia have been dubbed as ‘the epic game of the tournament.’

Russia has more resources when it comes to their Deaf Soccer program. Players on their team train together for a year at a soccer academy. They are paid to train and are given bonuses for extraordinary performances. Whereas the US Women’s National Deaf Soccer team does not have much funds. We are expected to train on our own. Our training camps together are few and sparse. Players are required to pay out of their own pockets for training camps, flight, food and hotel on top of fundraising $5,000 to go to international tournaments.

Clearly Russia has the upper hand. They won the last Deaf World Cup and are walking around Ankara as World Champions. Guess what? Russia has never beaten our team! We have faced them twice and both times Russia was unable to finish the job. We definitely have the mental advantage, but the question is do we have the soccer advantage? This team has never practiced as a full team until now. I must admit that makes us nervous, but I think it gives us motivation and determination to do our best.

Final score: 1-0 USA victory
Postgame thoughts

Many of our rookies had a bit of a shock when facing Russia in the first few minutes of the game. Seeing the stun in their faces reminded me of how I felt when I first saw the Russian soccer team at City Hall in Taipei, Taiwan. They give off a serious, intimidating vibe.

The first time we finally laid eyes on Russia this year was at the opening ceremonies. We had arrived a bit early and were sitting down, interacting and hanging out with each other. Most of us were smiling, laughing, and dancing along with the Turkish music booming over the speakers. The mood was delightful and light until they showed up. Once we saw a band of girls in white shirts with ‘Russia’ emblazoned on their backs, the atmosphere changed dramatically. Veterans exchanged looks and awkward smiles and waves. Rookies acknowledged them and stood quietly while veterans discussed game strategies.

This was the first game USA played against Russia since 2005. Their determination to kill us was obvious, but not enough for them. Our team was able to band together and hold our lone goal to the final whistle. The game was definitely not our best game, but it was good enough. We were able to hold off the Russian offense and maintain our game. We are expecting to see Russia in the finals, should be a good game. Perhaps the ‘epic game of the Deaf World Cup 2012.’

Until then, we can only improve and we will! See you then Russia.

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