London 2012: women’s football

This week’s Olympic experience has been all about the women’s football competition. I’d secured tickets to see one of the semifinals on Monday and for the final yesterday. Both at Wembley. Obviously I’ve been following the fortunes of team GB and was hoping for a chance to get to see them in the stadium so I was disappointed when they went out to Canada in the quarter-finals. This despite playing strongly and winning lots of new fans.

So instead my loyalties ended up switching to the team from Japan who I watched beat France in the semis and then lose out to the USA in the final. I’ve been describing their style of play as dogged but a times scrappy. In both matches they showed an ability to gain and keep possession but were unable to convert that into enough well executed attempts on goal.

They managed a determined defence of their lead against a furious attack from France as they sought to equalise in the last 20 minutes of the semi-final. But they were not able to defend against the skill and directness of the attack from the USA in the final. The second American goal was pretty spectacular.

I hadn’t been to the new Wembley before and I was hugely impressed. It was fantastic being part of such a colourful and enthusiastic crowd, soaking up the Olympic atmosphere. There were over 60,000 people there for the semi-final and over 80,000 for the final. I hope that the support and enthusiasm that women’s football has received during this Olympics translates into long-term benefit for the sport afterwards.

A bit of shuffling around of tickets on Thursday meant that I could share some tickets with two young Americans that had been staying with a friend. They got to see their country win a gold medal, which I feel pleased about, and I got a seat with a fantastic view on the halfway line.

Over the last two weeks I’ve managed to catch a bit of the spirit of London 2012. I’ve seen and Olympic record broken, some great sport, been impressed by the venues and the organisation, moved by the work of the volunteers, and seen an Olympic medal ceremony. On reflection I feel like I’ve had a proper Olympic experience!

Some scenes from Japan v USA:

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