Off to London!

January’s CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament turned out to be one of the best soccer events we’ve ever had in this city. It was especially pleasing for myself and my family to watch my sister Brittany play in such an electric atmosphere in her hometown, something I know she’d dreamt of for years.

Pardon what may seem like exaggeration, but I probably have the best sister in the world. She is the most loving and caring person I know and always thinks of her family above herself. As her baby brother, she’s very protective.  On the positive I’ve always been pampered by her, particularly with gifts from her travels. On the other side, most guys will worry about whether or not they can bring a girl home to their mother, for me it’s my sister.

To see someone succeed who shows you such love brings extreme gratification. So the pride and joy I felt at BC Place that night in seeing the team qualify for the Olympic Games inspired me to make a quick decision.

I’m going to London baby!

It wasn’t only the swell of emotion that made the decision easy, but also the fact that myself nor anyone else in my family had ever been able to travel far to see Britt play in a major international tournament.

Growing up, if I wasn’t playing myself I’d be at all of Britt’s tournaments. From anywhere in the Lower Mainland, to the island, across the border, or as far as Winnipeg for nationals, we were always there. But as she continued to rise up and eventually play with the national team, it made it harder to tag along. With cost and time off required from school and work, we just weren’t able to attend and show our support in person.

That’s not to say that we didn’t go to some massive tournaments. I’ll never forget the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship held right here in BC and in Edmonton. That was the first milestone for what has been a golden generation of women’s national team players for Canada, and seeing 47,784 people pack Commonwealth stadium was nothing short of amazing.

I’ll never forget the medal ceremonies after that game. All the Canadian players were bitterly disappointed to have fallen to the United States in extra time. Yet still, amidst the heartbreak, my sister spotted myself and my parents in the crowd and blew us a kiss. That pretty well sums up how awesome she is.

There was also the 2003 Women’s World Cup which was held in the United States after original host nation China was deemed too dangerous due to SARS. My family certainly wasn’t complaining about the venue change. With knockout matches in Portland, we were able to go watch the quarterfinal win over China and semifinal match against Sweden.

That was a magical run for such a young team.

Now, my mom and I are back watching them in person, almost as if it’s all come full circle.

This time though, just maybe, that kiss will be blown with a gold medal around her neck.