Before I get emotional I just wanna genuinely express how much I’ve given myself to this team and how important it is to give all of yourself to whatever you want to do in your life as a passion.
Wednesday night the world witnessed the last time that Abby Wambach, the current world record holder for international goals for both female and male soccer players, would take the field. It would not be the last time we saw her score a goal or win a match. Despite playing for 72 minutes, Abby failed to score and ultimately China snapped the U.S.’s 104-game home win streak.
But as Abby said after the match in her interview with Julie Foudy, the night was not about winning – it was about celebrating her career and the sport. Throughout the entire 72 minutes you could see that the rest of the team was passing her the ball so she could score. There were some close calls, but there were others that Abby a few years ago would have crushed. In the post-match interview, Abby remarked that it was telling that the team couldn’t score in the 72 minutes she was on the field, saying, “It’s time for me to go.”
As much as it breaks our hearts, her honesty is truth. Abby only came into the tail end of the World Cup championship match despite the fact we had it won by half-time. She had lost a step. But only on the field.
Just a week ago the U.S. Women’s National Team decided that the field in Hawaii was unfit for them to play on. Abby clearly led on this decision, just as she has led the team to fight for equity in pay and field conditions for years. In recent interviews, Abby firmly stated that her plan for retirement is to fight for women’s equality. She will be, now, the outside force who will push for pay equity between the men’s and women’s teams, but also for women to never have to play on turf again.
As my family and I have been preparing for her retirement (this is what happens when you obsess about sports as a family,) I predict that Abby will end up earning her MBA, and taking her turn as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation. There is a debate on whether she will coach or run FIFA. She’s Abby, so maybe she can do both.
Despite her hope that she will be forgotten in ten years, Abby will continue to inspire girls for generations. When she addressed the stadium she left them with these words:
Before I get emotional, I just wanna genuinely express how much I’ve given myself to this team and how important it is to give all of yourself to whatever you want to do in your life as a passion.
Even as she is transitioning from player to fan-activist, she’s still teaching our kids how to play the game. And that is why I love this woman – everywhere she goes and everything she does involves the binding thread of equality. It would be a dream to work for her … Hey, Abby! Keep an eye out for my resume!
Veronica Arreola writes the blog Viva la Feminista, where she tries to navigate and understand the intersection between feminism, motherhood and her Latinidad. You can follow her on Twitter @veronicaeye. To contact Veronica for an interview or to book her as a speaker, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: U.S. Soccer