Under 20 days until the Women’s World Cup

Women's World Cup, France 2019

The Non-Soccer Fan’s Guide to the Women’s World Cup

The Women’s World Cup, the world’s biggest sports event for women, begins on June 7 in France. Here at WorldStrides, the excitement is building!

That’s because our favorite teams from around the world will compete on the biggest stage in sports, and because our sports division, WorldStrides Excel, will be there cheering it all on! We have dozens of North American teams heading to France this summer to attend multiple games (including the group stage highlight, USA vs Sweden), tour the incredible host country, play some soccer against European teams, and even attend a VIP event in our CEO’s home in Paris. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and share your own World Cup experiences with us.

If you’re still learning the rules of the game and want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, this is the blog for you! Here’s a basic guide to the 2019 Women’s World Cup. We’ll give you everything you need to understand the “how” and “why.” (Your beverage and snack of choice are up to you!).

So how do teams qualify for the World Cup?

The six confederations of FIFA all have qualification tournaments during the 18-month period between April 2017 and December 2018. If you are the host nation, you qualify automatically. (2019’s host is France.)

Want to sound like a pro? Here are five interesting facts about women’s soccer:

  • The FIFA World Cup has been played every four years since 1930, but the women did not compete until 1991.
  • The fastest goal in Women’s World Cup history was scored by Lena Videkull, from Sweden. She scored in just 30 seconds against Japan in 1991.
  • Attendance has always been a battle for the women’s game, however, the USA hold the record for the most-attended game in women’s sporting event history when 90,185 watched the USA defeat China in the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final.
  • Abby Wambach has more goals in international play than any other woman.
  • The first professional soccer league in the United States was created in 2000 and was called Women’s United Soccer Association.

Finally, you need a team to support or follow. Here is our take on the favorites and underdogs for this year’s trophy.

1) USA (The Favorites)

The USWNT has a stacked roster that is full of talent. They have recently gone through a transitional period by bringing in fresh, young blood through the system. In recent months, they have been toying with formation and positioning to find the strongest starting 11.

2) France (Underdogs)

They have a strong record in France with a streak of 21-0-3. In 2018, the French went on a seven-game win streak and outscored their opponents 27-1. During 2018, we also saw 15 different players get on the scoresheet, meaning they have good depth and are versatile.

3) Japan

We are all still wondering what the final roster is going to look like for Japan; during warm-up matches the squad was very different from the one seen in 2015. They put in an impressive display against the USWNT during the She Believes Cup with the result finishing 2-2. They are also the reigning AFC Women’s Asian Cup Champions.  Japan is also a previous WWC Champion, winning the tournament in 2011.

4) England

The lionesses have grit, determination, and a never-give-up attitude. You can certainly see why they might be an outsider to win the Women’s World Cup. They have a youthful team that is stabilized with senior talent.

5) Australia

Where do we start with the Matildas? They are so promising and youthful, plus they have the one and only Sam Kerr, who is the current NWSL all-time leading goal scorer. The Aussies are not shy of scoring goals and could be a big threat in attacking transition.

Other teams to look out for include: Germany, Canada, Brazil, Sweden, Netherlands. Of these teams, the Netherlands could be the biggest Darkhorse of the race to be crowned Women’s World Cup Champions! If you are heading to France to experience the action first hand, WorldStrides Excel will be right there with you cheering on both team USA and your favorite team. And for the rest of us, we’ll be cheering the teams on TV on Fox Sports.

 

 

Steven Macdonald Q&A

  • Why did you want to join WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • The team was vibrant, fast-paced and energetic but, importantly I believe in what we are doing. We are creating once in a lifetime soccer experiences. It was a pretty easy decision in the end!

  • How long have you been with WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • 2 1/2 years

  • What do you like the most about your job?

      • Creating amazing soccer opportunities to players that don’t get to experience the “soccer culture” in another country.

  • As a child, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up and why?

    • I wanted to be a professional golfer. I wasn’t very good at soccer and now looking back I wasn’t that good at golf either!

  • If you had to describe yourself with just one emoji – which one would it be and why?

    • Smiley/happy face. I like to think of myself as a positive, happy go lucky kinda guy!

  • What do you like doing in your spare time?

    • I like to watch my favorite soccer team, Celtic, play golf, read, watching movies/shows on Netflix although don’t have much time for any of these as wedding planning seems to always get in the way.

  • Have/do you play any sports? If so, what were/are they?

    • I play golf, occasional game of soccer but recently was crowned champion ping pong players at our recent family getaway!

  • If you were a Pixar/Disney character who would you be, and why?

    • Probably Goofy because I am a little goofy!

  • Who is your childhood sporting hero?

    • I have many, Paul McStay, Henrik Larsson, David Beckham Tiger Woods but, I would have to say that my all-time favorite Sporting hero would be Roger Federer – the man just oozes class on and off the court.

Lauren Perpetua Q&A

  • Why did you want to join WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • The mission is one I thoroughly believe in- experiential learning through travel abroad! I think sports can connect us in so many ways!

  • How long have you been with WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • 6 months

  • What do you like the most about your job?

      • THE PEOPLE!!!!

  • As a child, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up and why?

    • A professional ballet dancer, because I practiced non stop!

  • If you had to describe yourself with just one emoji – which one would it be and why?

    • Smiley face because I try to always stay focused on the positive side of things!

  • What do you like doing in your spare time?

    • What’s spare time?? When I do get a moment to do something, I enjoy biking, skiing, and running with my dog!

  • Have/do you play any sports? If so, what were/are they?

    • I run and cycle. I also paddle-board and enjoy yoga!

  • If you were a Pixar/Disney character who would you be, and why?

    • The chubby mouse from Cinderella, Gus Gus! Why, because I just love him!

  • Who is your childhood sporting hero?

    • Darren Daulton (1993 Phillies were my jam)

Morgan O’Donnell Q&A

  • Why did you want to join WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • I was fortunate enough to travel to the UK with my soccer team in middle school, this is something that my teammates and I always talk about whenever we get together, I wanted to help other players have a similar experience, and I am able to do that with Excel.

  • How long have you been with WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • 3 years

  • What do you like the most about your job?

      • Being able to open peoples eyes to the rest of the world and knowing that we are providing them with a once in a lifetime opportunity!

  • As a child, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up and why?

    • Pro soccer player, lived & breathed it back in the day

  • If you had to describe yourself with just one emoji – which one would it be and why?

    • Hang Loose

  • What do you like doing in your spare time?

    • Traveling

  • Have/do you play any sports? If so, what were/are they?

    • Soccer. I also compete in a very competitive kickball league in Baltimore. We were the reigning champs this summer!!

  • If you were a Pixar/Disney character who would you be, and why?

    • Ariel, mermaids totally exist, and I love the being on the water

  • Who is your childhood sporting hero?

    • Very cliche, obviously the original GOAT, Mia Hamm

Paddy Meleady Q&A

  • Why did you want to join WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • I wanted to join WorldStrides so I could share my passion for sports and travel with as many people as possible.

  • How long have you been with WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • I joined WorldStrides Excel in October 2018.

  • What do you like the most about your job?

      • The people I work with every day from both an internal and external perspective.

  • As a child, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up and why?

    • A professional footballer, but that dream quickly evaporated!

  • If you had to describe yourself with just one emoji – which one would it be and why?

    • Laughing emoji, I try not to take things too seriously, taking in the good and the bad.

  • What do you like doing in your spare time?

    • Watch soccer, coach soccer and spend time with my family and friends.

  • Have/do you play any sports? If so, what were/are they?

    • Growing up I played Soccer and Cricket.

  • If you were a Pixar/Disney character who would you be, and why?

    • I have never watched a Disney movie in my life (no this is not a joke)!

  • Who is your childhood sporting hero?

    • Paul Gascoigne

Jamie Kent Q&A

  • Why did you want to join WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • I am passionate about travel and soccer travel specifically having traveled as a child and wanted to be able to help offer that opportunity to other children here in the US. I also felt this was a big company with lots of potential for me to build on in my career

  • How long have you been with WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • I joined WorldStrides Excel in January 2018.

  • What do you like the most about your job?

      • Meeting new people and working in sports/soccer

  • As a child, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up and why?

    • Scuba diver. I really liked it and went through several training certifications and thought I would be a rescuer swimmer/diver but that dream soon sank! Pun intended

  • If you had to describe yourself with just one emoji – which one would it be and why?

    • Smiling emoji, I’m a very easy going, happy guy

  • What do you like doing in your spare time?

    • Spending time with my 2 kids and playing/watching soccer, motorsports, Golfing

  • Have/do you play any sports? If so, what were/are they?

    • Golf, soccer, snowboarding currently & played rugby (3 games), cricket, field hockey, tennis as a kid too

  • If you were a Pixar/Disney character who would you be, and why?

    • Mufasa (lion king), I like to lead by example and now having kids I feel more responsible to set a good example and leader

  • Who is your childhood sporting hero?

    • Gary Lineker

Alan Hoyle – Team Q&A

  • Why did you want to join WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • The opportunity to help provide a fun, life changing experience for young athletes.

  • How long have you been with WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • Eight months.

  • What do you like the most about your job?

    • Working with the soccer community.

  • As a child, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up and why?

    • A basketball player- that was what I spent most of my time doing.

  • If you had to describe yourself with just one emoji – which one would it be and why?

    • Just the normal smiley, I try to be happy and make other smile most of the time.

  • What do you like doing in your spare time?

    • I volunteer coach my daughter’s u6 soccer team. I am an avid movie buff and see 4-5 movies a month at the theater.

  • Have/do you play any sports? If so, what were/are they?

    • I’ve played basketball throughout my life, I also play tennis off and on.

  • If you were a Pixar/Disney character who would you be, and why?

    • Simba has always been my favorite. He makes some mistakes along the way, but comes through in the end.

  • Who is your childhood sporting hero?

    • Michael Jordan- I grew up in North Carolina in the 80s and 90s, is there any other choice?

5 Coaching Goals We Scored in Barcelona

Day 1: Real Madrid vs. Alves

This is a #1 bucket list item for any soccer fan- to see a game in the Bernabéu! The historic stadium was packed, and the passion and atmosphere from the fans throughout the game was incredible. I was lucky enough to attend a match between Real Madrid and Alaves at Santiago Bernabéu, and although Real Madrid isn’t my team to see them play in their stadium was certainly something to brag about as a soccer person!

Day 2: RCD Espanyol Lecture

Taking part in a RCD Espanyol lecture left me with some interesting takeaways. For example, RCD Espanyol manages the player, parent, and coach interactions by only allowing players’ parents to watch training once per week. I also really liked their formula for success: Performance = Talent + Training x Attitude!

This session was also a personal highlight for me, as it brought back the memories of 2004 when my Georgetown team played against Espanyol’s reserves at the training ground stadium!

Day 3: Girona Lecture & Camp Nou

The coastal drive to Girona’s stadium is beautiful by itself, but it gets even better – Girona’s stadium sits on a scenic hilltop in this historic city.

Girona FC employs a great youth motto for their program: “ENJOY THE BALL.” Girona does a great job of breaking their academy down into two main developmental phases: U7-U15 is designated as the Learning Phase, and U16-U19 is the more advanced Performance Phase.

Though I’ve visited Camp Nou several times, it never gets old! Their special exhibit on Johan Cryuff was a huge highlight! Cryuff is widely known as the guy who started the modern way that Barcelona plays and develops its players.

Day 4: FC Barcelona Women

Having access to Barcelona’s famous youth academy “La Masia de Can Planes” was a treat! It’s easy to look at the grounds and imagine that the next Messi, Xavi or Iniesta could come from any of the fields. FC Barcelona Femení use the same facilities, and we had the unique opportunity to participate in post-training Q&A with the coach and one of the star players, Vicky Lasoda.

The day was topped off by Bucket List item #2 – the El Clásico at the Camp Nou. If you are a soccer person, then I need say no more!

Day 5: Nastic Tarragona & Catalan FA

After a morning visit and presentation with Nastic Tarragona, we had the opportunity to observe a rehabilitation training session for their players who are currently recovering from injuries. We also met with Albert Aliau, Football Director at the Catalan FA, who was the highlight of the entire program! I loved the following takeaways from his lecture:

Young players do not need warm-up. Start out with Rondos and get playing.

Training needs to look like the game.

Brazilian players do not learn their technical ability from coaches… they learn it from playing.

Article written by Keith Tabatznik, Director of Soccer, McLean Youth Soccer

Jamie Meshew – Team Q&A

  • Why did you want to join WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • I have been fortunate enough to coach and play overseas a number of times and I wanted to be able to make sure as many players and coaches as possible could have that same opportunity!

  • How long have you been with WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • I joined the WorldStrides Excel team in June of 2018.

  • What do you like the most about your job?

    • I’ve always been a talker – and now its my job to talk to people! I get to talk to people every day about my two favorite things – soccer and traveling!

  • As a child, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up and why?

    • I thought that I was going to be a professional soccer player, and if that didn’t work out then I figured I’d just work for US Soccer and coach the US Women’s National Team. No big deal right?

  • If you had to describe yourself with just one emoji – which one would it be and why?

    • I like the one with the guy wearing a monacle – He’s curious but also skeptical and I feel like I make that same face at least 30 times a day.

  • What do you like doing in your spare time?

    • I teach US Soccer Coaching licensing courses, am the GK coach at St. Edward’s University, and I coach youth soccer sessions every chance I get. I also run every day. Not necessarily far or fast, but every day. But most of all, I love to play with my 3 big dogs (Samson, Abbey, and Sydney).

  • Have/do you play any sports? If so, what were/are they?

    • Soccer has been the love of my life since I was 5 years old. I also earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do at the age of 13. As an adult I still play soccer when I can, but I’ve taken up distance running and Triathlon.

  • If you were a Pixar/Disney character who would you be, and why?

    • I like Timon, the meerkat from Lion King. He’s a little conniving, but also loyal and fun-loving. Plus, “Hakuna Matata” is my anthem!

  • Who is your childhood sporting hero?

    • Mia Hamm. No question. I had about 100 photos of her on my wall growing up. As an adult I’ve had a chance to meet Mia while working a camp with her…instantly turned into a 12 year old and had to try hard not to fangirl out!

Eric McAleer – Team Q&A

  • Why did you want to join WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • My love and passion for sports and international travel

  • How long have you been with WorldStrides Excel Programs?

    • Since 1998!

  • What do you like the most about your job?

    • The life-changing opportunities we provide!!

  • As a child, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up and why?

    • A soccer player:) Fell in love with the game around 4 years old and spent EVERY SINGLE DAY from then-on kicking a soccer ball.

  • If you had to describe yourself with just one emoji – which one would it be and why?

    • Smiley Face

  • What do you like doing in your spare time?

    • Being active outdoors; cycling, hiking, paddle boarding, golf and many other sports.
  • Have/do you play any sports? If so, what were/are they?

    • Golf, tennis, table tennis and cycling.

  • If you were a Pixar/Disney character who would you be, and why?

    • Scrooge McDuck; as he is an elderly Scottish duck:)

  • Who is your childhood sporting hero?

    • Kenny Dalglish, Jim Watt and Alan Wells…..all gave me awesome childhood memories!