FIFA Women’s World Cup: First Match Day in Vancouver

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“Where are you from?” asked the security personnel as I walked out to the Media Tribune on BC Place’s 400 level. “I’m from here, I’m local,” I said, feeling inadequate as though they were waiting to welcome a journalist from afar instead they got someone who lives 8 blocks away. “Well then, you’re super VIP!” I smiled as the other staff were notified of my new status and found my seat just to the right of the centre line on the bright green Polytan turf.

BC Place looking awesome for its first #FIFAWWC match

The Spidercam slid along 4 cables attached to the highest riggings in the stadium and danced above the field as pop music echoed from the sound system. I had my freshly-printed media package, xeroxed copies of the tactical lineups for the first match of the day’s double header, and as the familiar aroma of mini-donuts wafted my way I read the tweet from the official FIFA Women’s World Cup account that one million spectators were now booked to attend the World Cup in Canada. I’m not playing a very large role in the World Cup matches hosted in Vancouver (aside from an awesome contest I have going with the City of Vancouver’s Fan Zone) but I knew I was about to become a part of something very special in this city.

FIFA Women’s World Cup: First Match Day in Vancouver

Cameroon and Ecuador took the pitch for a historic first match in Vancouver. There had never been a showdown between debutant sides before in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Fans in yellow (a colour that represents both teams) took their seats in the stadium with flags in hand. With the roof open, a circle of sunshine covered the left side of the venue as jubilant chants, though rather quiet, supporting both teams could be heard between whistle blows.

The Lionnes for Cameroon were in great form, with standout stars #9 Madeleine Ngono and #17 Gaëlle Enganamouit charging the Ecuadorian net and combining for a 6-0 outcome The final goal by #7 Gabrielle Onguene was followed by a swan dive into the open arms of her teammates on the sidelines. Enganamouit with a hat trick was awarded Player of the Match during the press conference that followed.

Outside at the Vancouver Fan Zone at Georgia and Cambie, where I’m running a contest to enter to win World Cup tickets, I received tweets from spectators watching this match and the USA-AUS match who said although it was “hotter than the surface of the sun” on the warm early June day, they were having a blast at the free celebration site.

The second match of the day kicked off at 7:00pm as reigning champions Japan took on Switzerland who were also making their World Cup debut. The atmosphere, and number of fans, amplified as Japan supporters took over sections 249-252 in BC Place, where Whitecaps FC supporters, the Vancouver Southsiders, usually set up shop. The energy was similar to an MLS match with drums, chants, flags and tifo. In the upper bowl, on level 400, Swiss supporters clapped thunder sticks and led their own chants, echoed by another Swiss supporter section below me to and the left. “Hopp Schwiiz! (clap, clap, clap) Hopp Schwiiz! (clap, clap, clap).”

My husband sent me a message: “Watch for #10 Ramona Bachmann, plays pro club with Marta in Europe who gives her high praise.” Even without his text, I wouldn’t have been able to miss Bachmann who was a fireball on the pitch, dribbling around defenders and creating scoring chances. Unfortunately for the Swiss team, Japan’s #8 Aya Miyama scored early on a penalty kick and the 1-0 score stood until the final whistle blew.

Swiss coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg commented that she was very proud of their performance today and she felt they should have at least had a draw. “Bachmann is one of the saddest players today because she couldn’t use the opportunities she had.”

Miyama was awarded the Player of the Match at the press conference where she said the team had difficulty finding their rhythm but getting this one goal felt great.

All teams are ready for their next matches in Vancouver on Friday and are focused on their main goal: qualifying for the next round of play.

Next Matches at BC Place

Coming up, the next matches at BC Place will be on Friday, June 12th as Switzerland now face Ecuador and Japan will pair up with Cameroon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015: Nigeria vs USA
Sunday, June 21, 2015: Round of 16
Tuesday, June 23, 2015: Round of 16
Saturday, June 27, 2015: Quarter Final
Sunday, July 5, 2015: FINAL

Check out the full schedule for all Canadian host cities online and catch team Canada in action on June 11th and June 15th before the round of 16 begins. Be sure to get your tickets as well, let’s fill those seats in BC Place!

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