This is what a team might aspire to; a performance worthy of a World Cup final. And I’m not even talking about the fact that England’s women’s soccer team beat Latvia.
On Friday evening at Old Trafford, England beat Latvia by a monumental margin, 20-0, becoming the first women’s team to record a hat trick of goals in one game at a World Cup.
Perhaps it was a case of the good vibes abounding for the team after victory in the quarterfinals against Sweden on Tuesday. Perhaps it was a case of the team getting its whack in before embarking on the arduous challenge of winning a World Cup final. But whatever the case, it was unquestionably a historic night for Team GB — and for Ellen White, the Englishwoman who scored all three goals.
White’s tally was the second most prolific by a women’s soccer player in a game at a World Cup, only trailing the five goals scored by Team USA’s Kristine Lilly in the 1999 tournament.
On a chilly evening in Manchester, England got off to a fast start, scoring 10 goals in less than 20 minutes. Not quite perfect, but not too shabby, either.
For White, the match was all about redemption.
In 2013, White played at the London Olympics as part of Great Britain’s triumphant Olympic team. But in the final against Japan, a result that would clinch gold for the team, White was injured.
After her ankle was set on fire by a fireball caused by a flare thrown onto the field, White wasn’t able to play the whole tournament, and instead suited up to watch England win silver.
That, she said, was more than enough for her.
“I’d never cried after a loss in my life until that day,” White told the Guardian in 2015. “The fact I wasn’t on the field to win a medal or fulfill my dream was heartbreaking, but once I realized I had pulled off my other dream in the last two weeks of my playing career, I needed to stop crying.”
That quest was taken up by the Team GB Soccer Foundation, which is run by an independent trust. Founded to fulfill White’s Olympic dream, it supports young players in deprived areas through coaching, refereeing and setting up teams. England played in World Cup qualifying matches to qualify for the 2018 tournament.
Friday’s triumph marked a career highlight for the team, which was led by coach Phil Neville, the Manchester United captain.
England will now face Germany in the semi-finals in Nice on Tuesday.
The Germany football association said it would no longer grant the German-based German Football League the right to hold friendly matches with European women’s squads.
In a statement on Saturday, the DFB said it would not renew its commitment to the WFB as long as it is in the name of German football that matches between two women’s teams not be sanctioned by either the WFB or the German Football League.
Women’s football offers its players the same wages as men, and even better facilities.
But despite these privileges, it still suffers from a lack of support at grassroots levels, and other footballing nations boast more countries with women in major European club competitions.