Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The 99ers Still Captivate

ESPN films finally tackled "The '99ers" with their Nine for IX/30 for 30 documentary series, and it was a glorious presentation featuring behind the scenes footage from the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup thanks to Julie Foudy and her trusty camera that she took around to document the history making event. Eight members of the team also got together at the Rose Bowl (site of the famous final), looking back and giving charming, funny and serious stories about their experience at the tournament.

They captivated the nation thanks not only to their skill, but they were like the girls next door, with personalities as big as the stadiums they filled. The footage shown in the excellent documentary gave even more proof of that, while showcasing how they won the United States' last World Cup as a team. Mia Hamm was the face, with Brandi Chastain, Michelle Akers, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy, Carla Overbeck & Briana Scurry all making names for themselves as well. However, the whole team contributed to make the summer of 1999 a special one in our history. None of those players even scored in the USA's 3-0 victory against North Korea (goals came from Tisha Venturini & Shannon MacMillan). You could see these players were incredibly united, and it rubbed off on the nation as a whole.

I'll always remember being glued to the TV for it. The final against China was a nail-biter as expected, in front of over 90,000 people at the Rose Bowl, with an estimated 40 million watching on TV. In "The '99ers", Chastain explained that she took the game winning penalty kick with her less preferred left foot in addition to not realizing that she was the fifth kicker until before going up. The tournament elevated the Women's World Cup & Olympics to events that fill large stadiums and garner the attention of millions to this day. If you didn't watch "The '99ers" on ESPN, be sure to look for a replay and reminisce on that magical summer.

In the late 80s and 90s, women's soccer was dominated by China, USA, Norway, Germany, Brazil & Sweden. Since then we've seen the additions of Japan, France, Canada, England, North Korea & Australia to that list, which is still growing as more nations want to boost their programs. When the 2015 Women's World Cup rolls around, I wouldn't be surprised if Netherlands, South Korea, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Mexico or Iceland make the leap. Much of that can be contributed to the massive success of 1999.

Watch a great recap of the 1999 Women's World Cup:

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