Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Deaf World Cup Finals
USA vs Russia

From the second we stepped off the field after the game against Poland, our focus has been on one thing: the golden glory of winning the 2nd Deaf World Cup!! Preparations for this game have been carefully thought out and ordered by our trusted coaches and these included ice baths, stretches, team massages, extra loads of carbs, too much water, team meetings and rest.

The mental preparation for this game is a bit tricky, not everyone can do it all the same. It is difficult to be mentally prepared, especially after playing so much soccer and spending what may be considered an unhealthy amount of time together. Some of us had become unfocused, wanting to just take a break from the seriousness. Thankfully, we were able to pull it all together and get ready for Russia.

Coaches Yon and Brian emphasized the importance of representing your country and being the best of the best in the world. Russia wants to rip our throats and claim revenge for all of the victories we have bestowed from them. The image of Russia killing us was not difficult to imagine, for they are an amazing team. Fortunately, we are just that much better. Or at least I believe we are.

Final Score: Russia 0, USA 1!!!
Postgame thoughts

There are really no words to describe this game. It was perhaps one of the most intense games we have had to play in history. Russia threw everything at us, their midfielders were executing beautiful runs, they took many shots at our goalie, and they certainly were not afraid to give us some bruises along the way. Miraculously, we pulled through. I do not believe it was because of our talent, skill or potential because Russia had just as much. I believe it had a lot to do with passion. We have bucket loads of passion and are able to harness it and use it in the games we play.

It was so much fun celebrating with the team. We did it! We have reclaimed our title as World Champions once again. Storming the field with joy and pride, hugging each other and sighing with relief is an incredible moment. One of the best things to do when winning something as huge as this is hugging your teammates with the American flag draped around your shoulders. I kept getting flashbacks from the emotions I had in Taipei when we had won the gold medal. Incredibly, this feeling was different. I can’t put my finger on why there was so much difference, but I am glad there is a difference. Each experience is never similar. This team is nothing like the team in 2009. If anything, I think we are that much better. I can only imagine how much better we are going to become as a team when we compete in the 2013 Deaflympics in Bulgaria.

The World Cup trophy is in a word gigantic. We all took turns posing with it and hugging it. It was all fun, but somewhat meaningless. The more meaningful moments were when we stood on the podium between Germany and Russia, waving our hands in the air and smiling. The conversations I had with other players from Germany, Russia, Poland and Japan were hilarious, challenging, and fun. Those are the moments I will remember better than holding up the trophy. Sure, it was a profound moment but it was not what the experience was all about.

I become a better person when the people I am with challenge me. My team did a fantastic job with that. I thank them for that and hope I was able to challenge them as well. I will miss them as we part ways and return to reality. But like 2009, we are forever connected because of the Deaf World Cup.

The flight back home was long, but in a sense short. There is really no proper way to say goodbye to your teammates, especially when we have gone through so much together in 2 and half short weeks. Miss you all, Deaf World Cup Team USA 2012!

See you all soon

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