Episode 109: Mega Women's World Cup Preview including Julie Foudy and Ayisat Yusuf
On this week’s show, Lindsay, Shireen, Brenda, and Jessica first quickly talk about the French Open [7:06] before our GIANT Women’s World Cup preview what we think will be the biggest storylines, group stage games we are looking forward to, predictions on who will win the golden boot, and which surprise teams will make it to the knockout round. [41:02] Then we have TWO huge interviews. First, Shireen talks with Ayisat Yusuf, a former Nigerian international and Olympian. This decorated Super Falcon is now working as a coach and educator with grassroots soccer communities in Finland. [1:04:03] Then Jessica talks with Julie Foudy, former captain of the US Women’s National Team, 2-time World Cup champion, and 2-time gold medalist, about the 1999 World Cup, what needs to change in women’s soccer, and predictions for this year’s Cup. [1:23:22]
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, [1:33:00] our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring once again, Caster Semenya [1:35:28] and what is good in our worlds. [1:40:31]
French women's team moves out of training camp to make way for men: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-soccer-france/soccer-french-womens-team-moves-out-of-training-camp-to-make-way-for-men-idUKKCN1T019A?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=twitter
Softball pitcher of the year: https://www.softballamerica.com/stories/2019-pitcher-of-the-year/?amphtml&__twitter_impression=true
Giselle Juarez shuts down Oklahoma State in front of record WCWS crowd: http://www.oudaily.com/sports/women-s-college-world-series-giselle-juarez-shuts-down-oklahoma/article_6dfded78-8441-11e9-a13c-6fe1d5c9b5c1.html
The Black Queens collected $10,000 for reaching the semi finals at the WAFU Zone B tournament held in Cote d'Ivoire earlier this year. Was awarded by The Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Perry Okudzeto: https://www.myjoyonline.com/sports/2019/may-31st/yvonne-okoro-fulfills-10000-promise-to-black-queens.php
Caster Semenya appeals Cas ruling to Swiss Supreme Court https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/olympics/athletics/caster-semenya-iaaf-ruling-swiss-supreme-court-a8935631.html
Oklahoma softball legend Lauren Chamberlain announces retirement http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/26866909/oklahoma-softball-legend-lauren-chamberlain-announces-retirement
Lindsay: Hello, hello, hello and welcome to Burn It All Down, the feminist sports podcast that we hope, by now, you both want and need. My name is Lindsay Gibbs, I'm the sports reporter at ThinkProgress, but my most important role is guiding this ship of flamethrowers. Today, joining me are three of my lovely co-hosts, Jessica Luther, freelance author in Austin, Texas. Hey Jess!
Lindsay: We've got Shireen Ahmed, up there in Canada. How are you, Shireen?
Shireen: Game day, Raptors ready.
Lindsay: Ooh right! Should I just introduce you as Kawhi Leonard's mother now?
Lindsay: Kawhi Leonard's mother and sports reporter, Shireen Ahmed. And then, the birds chirping herself, Dr Brenda Elsey, coming to us from, apparently, Cinderella's bedroom. How are you today?
Lindsay: To explain our inside joke, right before we started recording, I was like, "Do I hear birds chirping?" And Brenda goes, "Oh, let me go close my window."
Brenda: I am in the beautiful Hudson Valley, New York.
Lindsay: And then she goes, "I don't even notice them anymore." Which is just the most ridiculous thing.
Okay. Alright. Sorry, I'm in a mood today. Anyways, we're so excited that you're all here with us, especially want to thank our Patrons who are just making sure that we can do this podcast each and every week. If you too want to become a flamethrower and get access to exclusive flamethrower-only content including newsletters and extra podcast segments, then please go to patreon.com/burnitalldown and subscribe! You don't have to put much. Two dollars a month will start getting you rewards. It's pretty accessible, pretty affordable and a pretty great way to support intersectional feminist media, which is needed.
Today we are going all in on the Women's World Cup, which starts this week, finally. And so, we're just going to do a big round table preview section. You can go back if you missed it. Our last two episodes, I think Jess is editing this together into a hot take. We previewed all of the groups, so you can go back and listen to this. Today we're going to give an overall preview and we have two phenomenal interviews. We have Shireen's interview with Ayisat Yusuf, who is a former Nigerian international and Olympian. She's a decorated Super Falcon who is now working as a coach and educator with grassroots soccer communities in Finland and she spoke with Shireen from Helsinki. And then, Jessica talked with Julie Foudy, former captain of the US women's national team, a two time World Cup champion and two time Olympic gold medalist about the 1999 World Cup, what needs to change in women's soccer, and predictions for this year's cup.
So, hopefully that will keep you listening. First of all though, I really quickly... It was a tough day at the French Open yesterday. Both Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka lost. Serena fell to American Sofia Kenin, who played really, really well and that was impressive. She's only 20 years old. And then Siniaková, a player from the Czech Republic, who's 23 years old, has wild and crazy curly hair that I love and also a fun game to match, but it was hard to see both Osaka and Serena lose. Jess, do you have any thoughts and feelings about this?
Jessica: Always. Yeah, I was sad that they both went out. I like watching them play. I also wasn't surprised either. I mean, Osaka sort of had a rough run into the French Open and Serena's barely played this year. And the other thing, Roland Garros more than the other three on grass and hard court, you kind of, as a tennis fan, come to expect the unexpected, players you've never heard of making it deep. So on some level, I feel like I'm just used to it. So I wasn't surprised, though I definitely was disappointed. Plišková going out early too. She won Rome. She was second seed, but the person she went out to, Martič, is now into the quarter finals, right? So, I don't know. It's been kind of wild to watch, but we still have... By the time you guys hear this, we'll know the outcome, but Sloane Stephens is playing Muguruza today, maybe right now, I have no idea.
Lindsay: Which could be a final. I mean that could be the final. It's ridiculous.
Jessica: Yeah, that could be the final. So, we still have incredible players left in this grand slam, but yeah, I love Osaka and I love Serena, so definitely sad.
Lindsay: Yeah, I would say I was, to echo your point, I was more surprised that Plišková went out and then, of course before the tournament, Petra Kvitova had to withdraw, which was sad, due to injury.
Jessica: Oh, that made me sad. Yeah.
Lindsay: And then Kiki Bertens, who had such a great clay season and was up to number four in the world, she had to retire from her match, so for me, it's almost more surprising after the clay seasons they've had, that Kvitová, Plišková and Bertens aren't in the second week, but let's keep an eye on Simona Halep because I think there is exciting things to come. She's defending champion. Shireen, Brenda, any thoughts and feelings? I know you're tennis fiends.
Brenda: I actually, normally would be probably, especially because of you two, but I have to tell you, I'm kind of laser focused on the Women's World Cup. I... Yeah. I think that's fair. I think that's all I'm doing right now.
Lindsay: I think that's understandable. Shireen?
Shireen: Yeah. My only contribution to this is that I loved Serena's outfit and that she had like-
Lindsay: Oh, yes.
Shireen: And the fact she had a matching one with Olympia just made me swoon. So again, that's not a technical analysis by any means, but it's my contribution that I stan her. I also obviously am rooting for Naomi Osaka and Serena in every aspect of their lives and I'm sad they went out, but I'm also like Brenda. I'm super laser focused. The Champs League is over for men and it was boring AF-
Shireen: So now I can really focus on the important football, so that's what's happening.
Lindsay: That makes sense and yes, we support Serena and Naomi and part of supporting is knowing that they're not super humans and can't win all the time. So, we hope that they rest up and I'm excited to see them both at Wimbledon.
Okay. It's that time. Women's World Cup. It is safe to say that we are a little bit excited here at Burn It All Down. Is that... Am I overstating that Brenda?
Brenda: Yes, yes!
Lindsay: So look, we're going to give, hopefully, everybody an overview. Hopefully this is going to be something that will be fun for the diehards like Shireen and Brenda and also informative to those of us who are slightly more casual fans like myself. So hopefully there's going to be a little bit in this discussion for everyone. Let's just start with what are the biggest storylines you all have on your radar going into this month? Brenda, you want to get us started?
Brenda: You know, I'm pretty dedicated to watching the South American teams and so one of the biggest storylines is just going to be can Brazil keep up with it's talent? Can it's talent do anything, given the fact that their coach seems hell bent on not using it correctly? I'll also be super interested in Japan and this generation of young players. Other things is how the Netherlands are going to do. How they're going to talk about Ada Hegerberg not being there because of her protest about unequal treatment by the federation. I'm so interested how they're going to handle that, so those are some of the storylines quickly, for me.
I mean, the US is always a storyline for everybody but me, pretty much. They're good.
Lindsay: That's fair.
Brenda: Don't hate them. I don't hate them, but it's like... There will be no lack of coverage. A lot of people have thrown out Julie Ertz as being somebody to watch. I don't see it. I just don't see it. I don't know what other people think, so the US will always be a big storyline because this is where we are and because they're so legendary and important in global soccer. I hope against hope one of the storylines is Nigeria getting through their group.
Lindsay: Oh, that would be so incredible. Jess?
Jessica: You know, it's so funny the USA and everything Brenda just said because I've had multiple editors tell me that that's the one women's sports story that will get all the clicks, is the US women's national team, so you should expect wall to wall coverage of that. I'm really, as a more casual fan than Brenda and Shireen, I'm just really interested in how good and competitive this Women's World Cup is going to be. I think we're going to get surprises and upsets that are going to be thrilling in the fact that the game has just grown so much and these teams are so much better than we've ever seen and I'm very excited about it.
I also had written down, we're going to be talking about pay equity and equity between the men and women's games and that was a really good point Brenda, how will they talk about Hegerberg? And will she be vilified? We've already seen a little bit of that even from US women's national players and their questioning of her commitment to her national team, so what will that coverage actually look like? I think that will be really interesting.
Lindsay: I totally agree. Shireen?
Shireen: I am probably a little more generous with the US women's national team than Brenda is, ironically. I think-
Brenda: Oh. I'm ungenerous?
Shireen: No, i think there's a lot of interesting storylines, but none around, necessarily... I don't want their pay equity thing to be a laser focus because, for me, what ends up happening is that it takes away from all the other struggles of everybody else in the world and it becomes a central theme. And historically, I think sometimes people forget this, that in 2011, the Canadian women's national team actually sued Canadian Soccer, but we don't see that anywhere. We don't see that listed and we're not too far from the USA, so I think, historically, it's sort of like the drive that the US women have and I respect them for it, having to fight your employer as you go forward to represent your country. I mean, that's mind-boggling to me, how they push through and they persevere.
Some other storylines that I'm hoping to push with my writing and my analyses are definitely not to forget, and this is something, I'm going to die on this hill, not to forget the other federation teams that are not there. And what we have to do, for me this isn't a culmination of everything, this is just a stepping stone of what we have to do next. And this particular World Cup is very different from 2015, in terms of the coverage and the wall to wall coverage that Jess alluded to as well. Yes, the US will get clicks and that's what gets clicks, but there's a lot of responsibility in media. I don't have a high bar for US media, except for Jess, in terms of writing, in terms of nuance, because we know where the clicks will be. You know what readers want to read. It's not necessarily what I want to see, but then again, I get my coverage from a lot of other places.
In terms of upsets, New Zealand beat England yesterday in a friendly. If that's not an upset, I don't know what is, and that's just a pre-tournament friendly, so I think we'll be looking for some really interesting things, in terms of upsets will probably, I hope that upsets and game results are the biggest storylines here as well, in addition to the social issues that need to be spoken about.
Lindsay: Absolutely. And that's what I was going to say is, look, my full time job is literally to write about social justice issues in sports, so there's, it's understandable why I kind of get a pass in that aspect, whereas because my preview for a political news site is going to be based on the fights that are going around globally for equity in women's soccer and that's going to be, work wise, at ThinkProgress, what I'm focused on. But what I'm hoping is, that media in general puts an equal, if not higher importance right now on the sport itself and on these athletes and on the accomplishments.
I want to see lots of these amazing goals going viral. I want to see these personalities, the tensions, the fights, even the uglier moments, which happen during competition. I want to see those talked and debated and see who was right and who was wrong. I want to see it talked about like a sport. Full. A full bodied discussion and that includes the social impact you know. You can't separate it. But it also includes, "Wow. That goaltender missed that save. What does this do to that goaltender's legacy?" Right? It includes those conversations as well.
Shireen: Lindsay. It's goalkeeper. Goaltender is hockey. So just, yeah, it's goalkeeper.
Lindsay: Thank you. Wow. Thank you. (laughs)
Jessica: I have a hard time with that one too Lindsay. I'm always getting mixed.
Lindsay: Hey listen, I said up front, more casual fan here, so...
Brenda: Totally fair. Totally fair.
Lindsay: And hockey's on my mind, alright! But anyways, mixed sports positions aside, that's what I want to see. I want to see us talking about these women as full bodied... A full bodied picture of what's happening. And that's what I'm hoping. I'm going to be really watching the media and seeing how the media handles this, knowing that there's an in to it, which is the US women's team, that gets clicks and I think that's fine. I understand that. But use that leverage right, to shine a light on the rest of the game and the game as a whole. So, I guess my storyline is just kind of like my hopes and wishes for the coverage. You can kind of see where my mind is.
Let's keep going here. What are the matches you're most looking forward to in these group stages? Shireen?
Shireen: Any time Nigeria plays, I'm really excited about that. Asisat Oshoala, who's recently been re-signed to Barcelona, she was on loan, she's incredible. She was the only goal they scored in the Champs League final and I think she's totally underrated. She is actually recovering from a shoulder injury, so I'm really, really looking forward to seeing her. Also, any time Canada plays because my country gets really happy and we deserve this joy.
Also, I think, I'm excited about Scotland and I'm not going to apologize for this, Brenda. I'm excited about that. I'm excited about seeing, this–
Brenda: (Groans) Whatever.
Shireen: It's a continuation of our hot take in New York City that we did with Steph Yang. I'm excited about a lot of things. I love watching Japan play. My heart, my footballer heart, literally is at peace watching them. I'm excited for China because I think they're going to be a possible upset. I think they're going to fight a lot harder than anyone will ever give them credit for. I'm excited about that.
I'm not really excited to watch Thailand play the US because it's going to be a little bit brutal. I really hope I find myself wrong here, but that's it. And in terms of that, those are the games that I'm, the matches rather, that I'm so excited to see and I'm excited to just revel in women's football.
Brenda: Well, I share with Shireen some of the excited, but cautious feelings. I'm excited to see Brazil-Italy play. I think the Italian team is a bit underrated and I think Brazil's probably a bit overrated, in rankings, sadly. Stab my heart to say it.
Shireen: I appreciate you Brenda. That was hard, but it was true.
Brenda: Yeah, I know. I'm nauseous, but it's true and I'm pretty psyched about that game, just because I'm going and it just seems amazing. I'll also be really excited to see Chile-US and because I'll be going with my daughters, who have both passports, and they're the same colors and it's the first time Chile will be in the World Cup, and I really think, it's a tough, it's a really tough team to imagine getting through their group, like impossible. But, you never know and I think it's just amazing that they're going to be playing, so I'm really excited to just see them take the field because the fact that they're there is all because of their own work, as opposed to any support that they've ever been given, and there's a couple of mothers on the team and I love that, that had babies in 2014, 2015.
So there's some great stories. So even if they lose I don't care. Well, I will care, but I'm bracing myself.
Lindsay: I love that. I'm personally excited for everything, but Brazil versus Australia I think, just because there's going to be a lot of legends on that-
Shireen: Oh yeah.
Lindsay: On that field at the same time. Let me see some Sam Kerr, Marta moments and so I think that that's just going to be an electric match and then, I honestly think the opener has a chance to be fine. I think it's going to be close. I'm not going to predict the upset there, but I think it's going to be close. And I'm just excited to see the atmosphere, see how the French crowd is supporting the team, see what is this going to be like? How is France going to show up for the women? So I think that's going to be... that's on my radar. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, so when I was prepping this one, I kept adding games. I was like, "Excited about this one, I'm excited about... " So I'm trying to narrow it down now. I also had France and South Korea in the opener, in part because South Korea, their defense was really good coming into the World Cup, so it'll be interesting just to see the French offense versus the South Korean defense in the opening game.
I do have England and Scotland and less that they're historic rivals, but also I am interested to see what the Scotland team can do and I think going up against England will give us a good sign of their potential to get out of the group.
I also have England and Japan because the last meeting of England and Japan was Laura Bassett with the own goal in stoppage to send Japan to the win, right? Or to the final. And so I just think seeing those two teams on the field again, it will be very exciting.
I have Canada and the Netherlands because when the Netherlands made their debut in the last World Cup there was a draw. Since then Netherlands has won the Euros, they're going up against a very good Canadian team. We'll get to know a lot about both of those teams and then I also had Chile versus the USA. Brenda has made me very excited to see what this team can do and to go up against a powerhouse like the USA, again, I just feel like we'll learn so much about both those teams in that match. And I get to go, so I'm thrilled.
Lindsay: Gosh, that's just the ultimate trump card.
Jessica: I know!
Shireen: Can I actually add, and I'm going to throw this down, I'm really looking forward to Nadeshiko versus Argentina. I will be wearing an Argentina jersey, but more importantly, I will be cuddling with Jessica Luther as I watch this match.
Brenda: Uh-uh (negative). No I'm not, I'm going to watch that through, you know, peering through my hands over my eyes.
Lindsay: That's not making this easy for me talking about being together and watching these all in person, so, yeah. This is getting tough, but let's keep going because we're professionals. In case you all haven't picked up on this, I am not going to be in France for the Women's World Cup and my three esteemed co-hosts here all are going to be at certain points, so I'm a little bit bitter Betty right now. I'm not even going to lie.
So, we've kind of touched on this a little bit, but is there any underrated, undervalued, under-appreciated team that you think could make it to the knockout rounds? Brenda, who should we keep our eye on?
Brenda: That's what I'm going for, but to be honest with you, all these groups, it's tough to imagine the people, the teams that you don't think are going to go through and not go through. It's just the shakedown of it, to me, it looks kind of obvious, unfortunately, but I'm going to say Nigeria.
Lindsay: And there will be a few third place ones too because that's, there's 24 teams in it and 16 make it to the knockout round, so there's going to be a few groups where the third place even gets in.
Brenda: Yeah. I say Nigeria is one that I don't hear a lot about. I think Shireen and I share this prediction probably.
Shireen: Yeah, we do. I think they're definitely the strongest team from Africa, there's no question, but I actually think in view of, they’re significantly stronger in some regards than some of the South American teams as well. So, we'll see what happens and my answer to this is that it's an underrated team, but it's not a weak team or less strong team rather, is Australia. I think Australia is going to butcher people on the pitch.
And I'm going to jump to the next question really quickly and that's because my Golden Boot contender is Sam Kerr. Hundred percent. I think there will be slaughter from Australia and they're not ranked super high. The Matildas have been quietly toiling down under. They are ready. Their entire country is ready. They are so ready for this and that's who I think. Like I said, they're not underrated, but they're going to plow through everybody.
Brenda: Yeah, I wouldn't say underrated by any means and their last couple of friendlies haven't been great. Sam Kerr hasn't looked on form, but she's so amazing that I agree with Shireen that she could just, when she wants, she could just light up.
Shireen: Well we could talk about lack of consistency because yesterday, like I said-
Shireen: England lost to New Zealand, so they're not going to be a hundred percent consistent all the time. It just matters at crunch time. We'll see what happens.
Lindsay: Yeah, so Shireen, those are yours and I won't knock you points for skipping categories. Jess, anybody you've got your eye on?
Jessica: That's interesting about Australia because I do think it'll be interesting to see how they come out the gate because I feel like it could go either way for them at this point based on-
Brenda: Yeah. I mean, did anybody see their game yesterday, was it yesterday with the Netherlands, that they lost three-zero?
Jessica: Yeah, I feel like it really will depend-
Brenda: Or something. What did they lose?
Jessica: Yeah. It was something. They have not done well in their recent friendlies, so they're interesting. I don't know, I just feel like I don't know. I found this one to be one of the most difficult questions because we just mentioned, New Zealand beat England, so I can't say, do I think New Zealand will get out of the group stage? No..? But I don't know, I don't know how to discount anyone really. I'm sorry. I don't have a good answer.
Lindsay: No. That's fine. New Zealand I think is my long shot that I would say might be able to get one of those third spots, but, yeah, I agree that it's going to be tough for anyone, but I'm just excited to see and I think I like Nigeria. I think that's a good one to be rooting for.
Alright. Golden Boots. Anybody have anyone other than Sam Kerr, who also I must say, was my pick for a Golden Boot contender. Brenda, anything to add?
Brenda: Probably somebody from the US could do it, yeah.
Lindsay: Alex Morgan, maybe?
Jessica: Yeah, I have whoever scores the most goals for the US. That person.
Brenda: It depends on how far every team gets, right?
Jessica: Yeah, that's so important.
Brenda: So, if we're just going to look at raw talent or something or who could if they stay in the longest, the question is, I think the reason Sam Kerr appears is not only because of her brilliance, and she is, but also because we expect her to be able to play a number of games, so that's going to be it.
France, does anybody think anybody from France might?
Shireen: Right now, Eugenie Le Sommer is not a hundred percent-
Shireen: She was out and Amandine Henry, sure. I don't see anybody specifically. Wendie Renard is not the highest scorer on that team and so I'm sort of reluctant to say. No, I think France will do amazing as a collective unit. Nikita Parris, I would love to see her because I really like her as a player. I really think she's a strong player. Golden Boot is a big thing though, so I could say, of course I want to say Christine Sinclair, but I just need Sinc to do five goals for me and get rid of Wambach and I'm good. So I don't even want the Golden Boot for her, like I-
Brenda: That's just vengeance. That's just mean! Poor Abby.
Shireen: Yeah, I'm okay. If I feel like Abby Wambach is a xenophobe, then I'm okay with my vengeance, so I will just say that. I would love to see, yeah, Nikita Parris. I would love to see that happen, but I don't know if it will.
Brenda: Yeah. Yeah. Or Oshoala, right?
Shireen: Exactly. Exactly.
Brenda: There's no reason she couldn't bang in seven, eight, but the issue is, will they get through?
Lindsay: Breakthrough player!
Jessica: Can I add maybe a possible outside person for Golden Boot, depending on how far the Netherlands gets?
Shireen: Of course. Yes.
Jessica: Vivianne Miedema.
Brenda: Miedema, yeah.
Jessica: Is that how you say the last name? She plays for Arsenal, I looked this up, I'm ready guys. She plays for Arsenal, she had 53 goals in international play since 2013 and at the Euros 2017, which the Netherlands won, she scored a winning goal in the semi final against England and two goals against Denmark in the final, so depends again, how this all works out. They are playing Cameroon in group.
Jessica: Depends how New Zealand shows up in group. The potential for a very good striker for the Netherlands if they go deep enough. So, I'm going to just throw out Miedema, just as a possibility, but it's so hard to say.
Brenda: I like that Jess. I like that.
Shireen: That's a fantastic add, addition, and I think what's really interesting here and Lindsay, just getting back to what I said about underrated versus not as loudly toted, because I think the same thing of the Dutch. I think Shanice Van de Sanden is really dangerous on the pitch. She's an incredibly tough play maker. They're smart. They're from the land of Johan Cruijff and I just, the Oranje are very... Lieke Martens is on the Dutch team again. They're incredibly strong. They're Euro champs. Yeah, I agree with Jess a hundred percent.
Lindsay: That's awesome. I think Alex Morgan's going to have a really... I mean this isn't a crazy, a wild prediction or anything, but I just think, she wasn't feeling well, she wasn't fully healthy in 2015 and she's talked about how, even though she was so happy for the win, she was frustrated personally because she didn't get to play her best on the biggest stage, so I think that she's going to be focused on doing that this time around.
Brenda: I think one of the challenges for her will be how actually known her game is.
Lindsay: Yeah. That's interesting, yeah.
Brenda: Like scouted and picked apart by different defenses, so it'll be interesting how she approaches it because she's one of the easiest players to figure out.
Shireen: To defend. Yeah, she is.
Shireen: Down the line, cut in from the corner, cross it.
Shireen: That's exactly. And even on set plays, with Pinoe taking the corner kicks, we know where, I know exactly where Morgan is in the box, every single time.
Brenda: But she's so good at doing that, so it's just a question of how much homework have those other teams done and how are they able to respond to her talent? Basically.
Lindsay: Alright, this is, I think, my favorite category, which is: breakthrough player. And we can all take this as we want it. I think, for me, this isn't necessarily players that nobody has heard of, but it's just players that haven't had, that casual fans might not have heard of, that might not have gotten the... weren't around last World Cup and this could be a huge, huge moment for them individually. Also you could go with just players who haven't really done much up to this point and are poised to do a lot now, so everyone just take this as you want. Jess, who are your breakthrough players?
Jessica: Yay, I get to go first! I'm going to choose Khadija Bunny Shaw from Jamaica.
Shireen: Oh yeah. I know.
Jessica: Yeah. I got to go first. Thanks Linz, I appreciate that. So, she's phenomenal. She played for Jamaica's U15, U17 and U20 teams simultaneously until she moved up to the senior rank and she's just really good. She's the first football player from Jamaica and the Caribbean to sign with Nike and I think Jamaica, from me too, is going to get a bunch of press. There's going to be a lot of attention on them. They are the first Caribbean team to qualify for the Women's World Cup. They are an amazing story. Obviously, we've featured them multiple times on this program. I think she's going to show up for her team and there's going to be a spotlight on them already and so I just think she's going to have a moment.
Lindsay: I totally agree with that. Everything you said. Go Bren.
Brenda: I'm going to take, if she's healthy, Christiane Endler, the keeper for Chile. She plays at P-SG. She is phe-nomenal. Phenomenal! She has some defenders in front of her that are five foot tall.
Jessica: Oh wow.
Brenda: Her job is hard. Her job is hard. And she is a shining, shining, shining star. She kept Germany to two goals in the last friendly versus Chile, even with a really hurt knee. I'm hoping that she's healthy. If she is healthy, I think she is one of the most talented players that will be in the World Cup. Whether she will be able to do that, she's going to be up against way talent, but oh my god, I'm rooting for her.
Lindsay: Oh, I love that. Shireen?
Shireen: Well, Jessica took mine with Bunny Shaw.
Brenda: Same! Ha.
Shireen: I think what I'm going to say here is a little bit unconventional in that, Jessica McDonald of the US, it's her first time on this squad.
Brenda: Look at you! Yes!
Shireen: I know, she is not, okay when we talk about breakthrough, that's not age related because Jessica McDonald is 31, but I saw her play in person with the North Carolina Courage, and everything about her says she's ready for this moment. And I'm not sure, she's not a starting forward for the US women's team, but this, I would hedge my bets on Jessica McDonald. I think she's incredibly intimidating on the pitch. She's just, she's pretty phenomenal, so I'm going to actually go there.
I'm also gonna say Georgia Stanway of England. She's 20. She is-
Brenda: Yeah. That's what The Guardian was pushing too.
Shireen: Yeah, she is pretty, she's not as experienced as the Lucy Bronzes and the other people on the team, Steph Houghtons, but I think she's pretty formidable and she's actually on Manchester City and she's got experience in the Europe League, European League, which I think is going to shine through this tournament. I think this is a tournament where we'll see European women's soccer players shine.
Brenda: Do you think she'll get minutes Shireen?
Shireen: I don't know, because she's not first line. She's not starting, but I hope so. I think in the group stages, in second halves, maybe we'll see some switches. I would love to see her get her hands on the ball. I'd love to see her get in and get some play time, but she's one that I would watch. I think... No I don't want to do more than two because I'm trying to stay focused and I haven't been and I've been rowdy for Lindsay, so I don't want to be rowdy.
Lindsay: You've been perfect Shireen. I'm just teasing.
Shireen: And can I just say, Saki Kumagai, because I want to say her name because I love her. She's not a breakthrough, she's a champion and I love her. I just want to say her name. Saki Kumagai.
Lindsay: It's interesting we're talking about Jess McDonald and actually, this is name drop time, I had a quick interview with Briana Scurry the other day and she told me, she said, "I took Jess McDonald aside and I told her, you are going to have a moment. I don't know when, but there is going to come a time when your team needs you and you are going to be there, and you are going to step up." And so, the great Brian Scurry has her eyes on Jess McDonald too, Shireen.
And I want to add, talking about the US team, this I think, she's too big of a name to be maybe a breakthrough player, but Crystal Dunn was left off the 2015 squad and I'm really excited for Crystal Dunn to get her World Cup moment and I think she's going to make a lot of it. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, I had one more that I'd... another possibly from, I don't know, outside. We haven't talked about Spain a lot and they have potential. I'll just spoil a little bit of what's coming up with Julie, but she likes them a lot and how do you say it? Is it Henni Hermoso? Jenni Hermoso?
Brenda: Henni. Jennifer. Right? Isn't she Jenni? Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jessica: Jenni? Jenni Hermoso. She could be scoring a bunch and if Spain goes far enough, I feel like she might have a moment on this international stage. So that's my outside pick for breakthrough.
Lindsay: Do we think Debinha could have some moments, Bren?
Brenda: Yeah. The frustrating thing right now, for me, is that that team could field 14 forwards.
Lindsay: Right. Yeah.
Brenda: And I don't know how Vadão's going to use her. She's used differently on the national team than she is on the Courage.
Lindsay: Okay, yeah. That's why I'm asking, because I've liked her on the Courage so much, so I'm just kind of wondering, but you would know more than I do.
Brenda: I do too and she is in really good shape and really good form and I think she's about 27. So she has experience, but she's also got a lot of legs and I'd love to see her do well. It all depends on, at this point Marta doesn't have a position anymore. She just does whatever she wants I think. Do you know what I mean? In the last World Cup, they were forcing her way up top and it was too up top because she can be a deeper playmaker than that and they suffered from it, so I don't know what they'll do with Debinha because she's usually hanging around on that right side. So yeah, I think it depends on how Vadão uses her. She could have a wonderful tournament. Andressa Alves or Andressinha, any of them could break out at any moment.
Lindsay: Thank you for answering that for me. Because yeah, I see these players in NWSL and you're like, "Why aren't they doing other things? Why aren't I hearing more about them?" And then of course there's just so much nuance, every team is so different from on the international stage, and so it's hard to put it all together.
Alright so, I guess just finish up personally. You all tell me where you're going to be in France. Tell our flamethrowers where to be on the look out for you. And how are you watching? Bren?
Brenda: I'm going to be in France from the 14th to the 22nd. You can see a longer preview of the Brazil team that I did for SB Nation, that's coming out next week probably. You can find me writing sometimes for The Equalizer, and I'm not a huge Twitter person, but I try. So I'll try to give little CONMEBOL updates, but yeah, and also I've got to plug the Fare Diversity House because Shireen's going to be speaking there, Jess is going to be there, I'm going to be there. So you can also see us.
Lindsay: That is awesome. Once again, jealous. This is going to be a hard segment for me. Shireen!
Shireen: Yeah, I'm going to be there. I leave Toronto on the ninth June and then we're live fresh, Monday morning and I will be attending Argentina-Japan that night with Jessica Luther, you might have heard of her. And I will be eating a lot of carbs while I'm there and I will be going... I'm basically going to follow Jessica for her media stuff and then going to come back. I'm hoping to connect with some really good friends like Roxane Coche. I'm hoping to connect with Assia Hamdi. I'm hoping to connect with my friends at the Les Dégommeuses. It's a French grassroots football club and I love them and they're brilliant and hoping to meet with people there.
And then on Thursday, I actually have a panel that hasn't been publicly announced, but it is there. It has to be there because I'm going and it's going to be on something that is very important to me and very, very timely and it's going to be on the history of hijab in France and football specifically, pointed at the FFF and for those flamethrowers that do not know, France is currently the only federation in the world that does not permit hijab, despite FIFA having lifted a ban in 2014. Yes, I will be talking about this. It's extremely timely because as we celebrate women's soccer and as I will be wearing my French kit, I will be talking about this because absolutely the forced exclusion of women to participate in many levels of society is coming through football.
And I will take this and I'm very grateful to Fare for giving me an opportunity to talk about this in France during the Women's World Cup, so please, if you're in Paris, come out to Diversity House. It's going to be amazing.
Lindsay: I have chills. Gosh, I have brilliant co-hosts. Jess, tell us about your trip.
Jessica: Yeah, so I leave Tuesday. I get there Wednesday. I'll be at the French Open for a couple of days and then hopefully at the opener on Friday and I will be here through most of the group stage. I leave on... Or there, I'll be there through most of the group stage until June 20th and I'll be going to a bunch of different games around the country. I don't know how I will watch a lot of it. I was thinking about this the other day, “there will be a lot of games that I'll need to find a TV for,” or a crowd or something in order to keep up, but I'm very excited. It should be fun and of course I will be at the Diversity House to hear Shireen talk and I can't wait to hear that and then, yeah, those are my plans for now. And I will mainly be posting about this on Instagram, both on my account, @jessicawluther and at @burnitalldownpod's account on Instagram.
Lindsay: I love it. So, I'm going to be here in DC. If any flamethrowers, this is a very, very actually genuine invitation, I really mean this, please reach out to me if you would like to meet at a bar and watch one of these, watch some of these matches. I'm just going to try and catch as many, try and use it as an excuse to get out of my apartment some and be social more than I often am during WNBA season because I'm working two jobs basically.
So, yeah, hit me up. I'm really excited. I can't wait and I'm just going to be watching on Fox and FS1, which have it in the United States. There's an app too if any of you all need that. Telemundo and Universo will televise it in Spanish. BBC of course has it in the UK. Optus Sport in Australia. DIRECTV Sports, which I think covers in some African countries and then CTV, RDS and TSN in Canada have it as well. So hopefully, all of our flamethrowers can find a way to watch this as much as their heart desires and most importantly, as always, support the people who are there giving the coverage that you want to see.That's the best way to encourage that that coverage can keep happening.
Shireen: Hello flamethrowers, it's Shireen here. I'm so, so, so excited to have my good friend and former Nigerian national, Ayisat Yusuf, on Burn It All Down today to talk about her experience playing for the Nigerian national team, the Super Falcons, her experiences in Europe and so much more. Welcome Ayisat.
Ayisat: Thank you very much.
Shireen: How are you doing in Finland?
Ayisat: Yeah, I'm doing awesomely good. I'm doing very well.
Shireen: Is it cold right now?
Ayisat: Right now is a little bit better because we're approaching summer, but previously it's always cold.
Shireen: Awesome. So, what would be the temperature right now?
Ayisat: As for today, it's plus 16 degrees today.
Shireen: Oh, that's beautiful. I think that's warmer than Toronto.
Ayisat: Yeah. It's warmer today, but you never know tomorrow, you know?
Shireen: You never know.
Ayisat: You never know.
Shireen: Among the many things that you do, Ayisat, not only are you a coach, you're a board member of the Fare Network, you actually run the She-Football initiative in Nigeria that helps promote football and development of girls. You do so, so many things. You were also the first African woman to play in the Finnish league. What are you up to right now?
Ayisat: At the moment, I'm a football coach and I'm also a sports instructor. I work with an organization called Monaliiku. It's for women, a multicultural women’s group and they're for migrants, and it’s just a way of empowering women and to include more migrants in social media and to get more, better integration and also I'm coaching in two different clubs here in Finland. So, basically I'm working with sport related jobs, which I really love because I've got strong passion for sport.
Shireen: That's amazing. So you played defense for the Super Falcons.
Ayisat: This kind of player that I'm actually called a utility player, because when I was playing the Super Falcons, I played in the defense and sometimes in the midfield because it depends on the coach and depends on the games.
Ayisat: But when I played abroad, mostly, I usually played from the right wing or from the left side because I use my both feet, so will depend on the coach and depend on the games, so then he plays me in a particular position I have to play. But randomly, I enjoyed my football life. It was awesome.
Shireen: That's incredible. That's really important. So, tell me a little bit, how long were you part of the Nigerian national women's program?
Ayisat: I actually played roughly ten years in the Nigeria national team.
Ayisat: I played in the three Women's World Championships and I won four times, gold medalist at African tournaments. Also been the Olympic in Beijing and then 2009, I retired from play actively because I just decided to give the younger ones the chance to play in the national team and having contributed my quotas for the national team. So, I just resigned with a lot of respect, but otherwise, it was awesome playing for the national team. It was a great privilege.
I’m so proud of myself because, I know most people that know my story back in Africa, my entire community because I come from a Muslim background. We have a lot of, back in those days, as girls, they're not allowed to do sport or play football, do something that men does, so I got a lot of barriers and obstacles. At a point, I had to sneak out to go and play and when I come back I know what I actually would go through, but other hand, then I never gave up my dream because I thought giving up is never an option for me.
But this changed, when I actually played my first World Cup in Canada, 2002 and that was the first ever FIFA under 19 World Cup then in Canada. So after that my story changed from grass to grace and everything fall in place, so I play roughly ten years in the Nigeria national team.
Shireen: So let's talk a little bit about what you were saying about your background and your community, having been empowered by your journey. Was it difficult for you as well, understanding the nuances and challenges of Muslim women in sport, do you see more girls from your community playing or at least having the choice? Is that what we're talking about here?
Ayisat: I think now things have rapidly changed because of the way things are going in sport and most of the women are the voice of the voiceless, but like I say, back in those days when I was playing, to be honest, I never had the opportunity to play football. Given the chance to play, one as a girl child, and secondly from my background and my dad, may he so rest in peace, then you know, I lost my dad when I was at eight, nine, so my difficulties I faced the challenges and all that, but the good thing is that things actually change now and it's changing really fast which I'm so proud and happy.
My thought, in my only little way of giving back to society, to the community back in Nigeria is to empower these young girls from the street, to be the voice to them and also to let the parents know that playing football as a girl child doesn't mean you are going to be wayward and not responsible or you don't want to go to school or you're going to do something really bad, so sometimes it's good, when you take the parents and tell them why it's important for a girl child to do sport, not being deprived all because she's a girl.
And like I say, my story, actually changed my community, it's because I made it to the national team and that was why it was easy for people to like, "Oh Ayisat made it. Now you have to go and play." Because I proved a point to them, that a girl child can be very important and responsible and also can be proud of, the family can be proud of her, even though she's a girl child.
But, you know, sometimes as a human, why not sit back at some point in my life, that okay, what about if I'd given it up or if I'd listened to what my parents don't want me to play football. Or if I'd stopped playing then, to be honest, I have to be sincere to you, wherever I've been today, wherever I've traveled today, even me being here in Finland today, mashallah, it's the glory of god and also football took me everywhere I've been today. If not for football, I wouldn't have known where I would have been today. So, this is reason why I was like, no, I have to try to promote and also to campaign for people to know that girls should be allowed to do sport or to play football or to do whatever sport that they want to do.
Like I said, now, things are really changed, which is a really good thing, but there we just shouldn't have stopped there because you just have to keep pushing and keep pushing because yet there's not a lot of equality when you compare and contrast the male and the female child in Africa and Nigeria besides. So this is the reason why I'm like, no. We see men doing this, to be honest, there's a lot of improvement and progress, so I'm so happy doing this for the young girls so, who kind of see me as a role model, but for me, I think it's not really enough. That's really why I want to do more and do more to that, to make things change to the right direction.
Shireen: Yeah. I have a question for you. As a young girl, if you didn't get the opportunity to play in structured leagues or games and matches, how did you get so good?
Ayisat: I would say, sometimes when god blesses you, it’s hard for people to shadow it or hide it. I would say, you know football generally, some people are born gifted. For example, if you want to compare Messi with some other players, of course every other player that play. He's a guy that I've met one on one, I was honored to meet him. To be honest, I was so happy. Yeah, Messi, we get our minds together in the Olympics and Messi was like, I've met him, with Carlos, I have met some basketball players in America, Kobe Bryant and all that, so it was an honor for me to meet these people because when I was young then, watching them play on TV, I couldn't have imagined me being with them officially and interacting with them. So it was a huge deal for me to see these people when I met them at the Olympics.
So I would say this is because for me, I'm born talented. I was born gifted, but then because of my background, I was restricted not to do it. When some people start playing football, the learn the techniques from the young age and blah, blah, blah and then it helped them a lot because when you learn football from a young age, it helps you a lot because it's something you keep doing every now and then and when you grow up it stays there.
But for me, like I say, then I always played with the boys, so I don't even have a girl friend to play with, so I always, all the time played with the boys in the streets. Sometimes, we didn't even have money to buy the football. You go and pick oranges in the streets, you would set small posts and start playing. It was really fun and of course then, there was no money or payment, but the fun of it and the joy of you playing football and when I played with these boys, all the time I'm playing, it was at the point when I'd go to the high institution, playing in my department, most of the time they are always playing interdepartmental tournaments in school, but the director only allowed me to play with the boys because they felt that I'm always, it was something I would play with some of these guys.
So when I was playing them, slowly, slowly, people came to watch me and that was how I got attention of someone that took me to a club then. And even then, when I went to the club, I have to sneak out to go to play and whenever I come back, I got punished for that, so at the point, to be honest, I had to run out from home. I couldn't go back home. I was just staying with the people there in camp and then, because my mum was not the one that trained me. When I lost my dad at age nine, they took me away from my mum, so to my Daddy's younger sister, which eventually she changed totally to me because there was no one to stand for me and then I couldn't even stand for myself because I was quite young. I think I was 14 or 15 then. But then, no one could stand for me, so at the point, I have to stand up for myself and when I ran away from home, I had more challenges in my heart, like, "Now Ayisat, you've left home because of this passion." And I wouldn't want to go back home regretting, so I have to double my efforts in the team.
Luckily for me, I, both in my club side because I actually captained three to four different clubs in Nigeria, which I've captained many times before I go to the national team. In the national team also, all the coaches I've played with could not ignore. Every now and then they change the coaches and all the coaches I've played with, I'm always one of their favorites. I'm always in the first team. So, every time when I'm in the field training or playing games, I'm always giving, if players are giving a hundred percent, I'm giving 110 percent and this is the reason why I tackled, during the World Cup in Canada, when I was reading the national pledge, I was reading the national pledge at night and the monitor was there, everyone was watching and of course, it's every girl or everyone's dream and joy to see you playing for your country and putting on your surname at the back of your jersey, but this thing flashed back in my heart immediately and I just couldn't control the tears in my eyes, so I was just crying and the camera was just focused on me and the coach was asking me what happened, and this was before the game, and the coach just comes to me like, "Ayisat, you know you're meant to be a very courageous, very strong."
I hardly complained, so seeing me crying, it adds a lot of messages, but people don't know why I was sitting in the back, trying to control, it's not something I really want to do, but I couldn't because of the emotion and everything. I just talk about what I've went through and now, this is me here in Canada, playing live and people just sit and they're watching me play. I used to watch people play in the streets, but this is the World Cup, people watching me from both home and abroad, Africa and everywhere all around the continent. And then, my heart, I started crying, I couldn't control it. And then my coach just tell me, "Ayisat, go and play. I trust you." And believe me, you, and this was a match between Nigeria against Denmark.
Shireen: No, that's an incredible story, for you to be emotional and it makes sense that you would be on the pitch. You would be feeling emotional. Of course it would make sense, given everything that you'd been through and that you were denied that right as a child and now you're in a position to create those opportunities, literally in the same place. Is the She-Football movement, is the initiative in Lagos as well? Is that where you grew up? Is that where you're doing a lot of the work?
Ayisat: Actually, it's in Lagos because I'm from Lagos state and that's why mostly, every time I do this campaign, I usually do it at the National Stadium, at the Lagos State National Stadium because it's the biggest stadium in the Lagos state. It attracts a lot of people and of course people knows me, when I was playing in the stadium there because most of the time when you play with the national team, if you have home games, you're going to spend most of our home games on the same field and so this is the reason why I took this She-Football event, every now and then I, the tournament or the event is being hosted here. This year, actually, I got some attention from the Nigeria FA and the person of Aisha Falode, she's the chairperson of the Nigeria women's football department.
Shireen: Sorry, what's her name?
Ayisat: Aisha Falode.
Ayisat: So, she is the chairperson of the Nigeria Women's Football at the moment and also the Deputy President of the Nigeria FA, Seyi Akinwunmi and some other prominent leaders and they were there to grace the occasion and they compliment me formally, for remembering my root, for giving back to society, for encouraging the young girls and all that because the point they were complaining that it's not every ex-player that does that, Asisat Oshoala, that is giving back to society now and we are as well. But it's something that people really love.
Shireen: Yeah. She's one of my favorite players. As you said Oshoala is, she's incredible, yeah.
Ayisat: Ah, yes. We will see each other like every now and then when I go to Nigeria. And she's doing also really well to encourage young girls also back in Lagos state.
Shireen: Yeah. Another question I have is, your memories of the 2007 Women's World Cup in China, how was that experience for you?
Ayisat: It was really an awesome experience. It was a good competition and we were in the group whereby it was very tough, playing against United States of America and some other strong teams in the group. But unfortunately we drop out of the preliminaries because we couldn't go further and we lost our control of the game and won just one and then we get back to Nigeria, but it was a really great experience playing in the World Cup.
Shireen: How do you see the World Cup having changed from 2007 to 2019? What do you see that's different now?
Ayisat: There's a lot of things that have changed. The way the women play now, it's very much more entertaining and it's very competitive now because previously the some time before the tournament, one can predict which country's going to be likely to win the World Cup. But then and now, it's a lot of changes and I think I'm very happy about this because whereby it's more competitive and every other country have fast players and no one wants to go to the World Cup and jeopardize their country or just go there for junk play.
I think, for me, I will credit all, most of these young girls, these women because they are playing awesomely fantastic football. Even, some of the games I watched in the previous World Cup, it was so, so entertaining and it's pulling out a lot of crowd that's more people interested in watching women's football now, but then we still have to do more to create more awareness for people that women's football is as entertaining as men’s football.
Shireen: So what would you actually suggest or what advice might you give or what do you want to see for players around the world, particularly in Nigeria or around the world? Because we know that a lot of women players have same struggles, be it Argentina, be it Nigeria, be it anywhere, they have struggles with the federations that support them. How do you think the situation can be improved?
Ayisat: Actually, if I also say that, generally in the whole world of football, I think they should try to improve and increase the equality. I am talking about the payment aspect and the treatment given to the boys when the World Cup is being played. I would like to have a bit of a flashback about the previous World Cup, last time that they played, because I actually made some comment about it because I couldn't understand why FIFA were allow the women to play World Cup on astro turf field because we all know that when you're playing on the grass field and playing in the synthetic field is not the same. A synthetic field, mostly when it's wet or raining, it attracts a lot of injuries and I'm very much sure that FIFA would never allow the male counterparts to play World Cup on the synthetic field. So in this case they should look more, put more attention to that and generally when you...
I'll talk about, let me talk about Nigeria or Africa in general, I think the FA need to do a lot more because these girls, they don't have normal proper preparation before the competitions and you want them to go and perform miracles over there. It's not done like that because when you give the players a good training camp, good atmosphere, then they are the FA priority, not like when you just put the player in camp, there's no preparatories made, there's no encouragement, there's no motivation and there's no good payment yet. You pay the boys, like Messi for example, you pay them for a win bonus, like 10,000 dollars and you're paying the girls, like I say 1,000 or 2,000 dollars. You can see the margin that it's not even close. And this is not... It's really, really unfair because if you take a look at most of this tournament, these women win a lot, more than the male counterparts and when the males win the World Cup, kind of celebration. They treat them like a king and all that, so it's very, very unfair.
I should think that the FA and also FIFA should put more, it's a kind of law, so script, give us a kind of push so the FA, to treat these women in the proper way that they treat the male as well because I'm sure if you give them good preparation and good treatment and they encourage them more and give them strong motivation, they'll want to do better than even what you expect. But when you treat them less or treat them low, then of course everyone wants to play good football, I'm sure that no player wants to be on the field and play bad or play wrong, but some point you think, because somehow, it's a mental thing. It's a mental thing that can affect you emotionally and mentally, that you want to give your best for your country and then the country is not even giving you something back in return.
And sometimes they even deprive you of your rights when you win, like for example in Nigeria, the last Nations Cup, when you win you still have to fight for your rights, protest and they don't give you the money. You kind of want to be straight with the nation, before they not come up with something and pay your rights to you.
Shireen: And your talking specifically about the fact that the Nigerian Football Federation didn't pay the Super Falcons, who won the championship. They didn't pay them for a year and they had to protest. You're absolutely right, it's unfair. Do you have hope though, that this will happen?
Ayisat: I think for now, I think, I have hope or not fully because sometimes it depends on the players. But when you have some player or a captain that is a very charismatic captain or leader, it goes a long way. But sometimes when you have a weak captain or someone that, or a leader, so to say, that she's easily brainwashed or talked down on, then she's just like, "Okay. It's fine." But when you have a charismatic leader or a coach that can speak for the players, because sometimes the coaches role also is very, very important, but nobody there to jeopardize the players interests all because you want the FA to retain you or to keep you as a coach. And now, I think most of the players now, they play abroad, so they've seen money, they've seen things, they know, they have a lot of experience and expectations now. It's not like when back in those days, when most of them played in Africa, only a few played abroad.
So I think now, those guys should take the bulls by the horn. Of course, to be honest, they're still complaining now. They say we are owing them some kind of money, but in this World Cup, hopefully, I hope to go to France to watch the World Cup and let's see what happens because if I go there, I will try to go to the camp and see what is happening as well.
So, if the players can stand on the ground and fight for their rights, I don't see the reason why FA should try to either kind of steal from them or deprive them of their right because we all know that every country that qualifies for the World Cup gets some kind of particular amount of money from FIFA, so where is this money goes to? That is my point and sometimes what annoys me most is sometimes when I see here the same story that happened during my playing days and I want to lose hope, because reason is that this thing keeps repeating itself.
The same things keep happening, but why can't they ask these just two questions to solve this problem? Why and what. Why, in saying that, why is this thing happening every now and then and what can we do to turn this thing eradicated and forget about it once and for all and let us move to the next level in a positive way? But they just ignore these two questions, why and what. Because anyway, when they give the money to you, the money should be given to the players according to what FIFA said, but when you get to the FA, you know some greedy, little, self centered leaders or the FA or whatever they call themself, they just divide the money to different players and they keep telling the same story. So this is unfair.
Shireen: Yeah and Burn It All Down is absolutely in support of you asking those questions. I think around the world, we see, if one thing we know and in my own research and work, these issues are from, literally, from North America to South America, Latin America to Europe to Africa to Asia to South Asia. They are literally all over the world, the inequality for women in football. It's an absolutely global crisis, I would say, in the lack of support financially. So give me your predictions, Ayisat, for this Women's World Cup. If you have any, I would love to hear them.
Shireen: Okay. Okay. Good, alright.
Ayisat: And Japan.
Shireen: Yeah. Yeah.
Ayisat: And Nigeria. (laughs)
Shireen: Of course, I was waiting for you to say Nigeria. I just wanted to say thank you so much on behalf of the show. We are huge fans. Huge, huge fans of the work you do. You give yourself so selflessly for sport and for your community and for everybody. You are an absolute legend and it was such an honor for me to talk to you, my friend. Thank you for making time because I know it's late as well and you are welcome back on any time.
Ayisat: Thank you so much for having me. It's an honor. My regards to everyone, and I love you.
Shireen: You're a sweetheart. Okay, we'll talk soon my friend. Take care.
Jessica: I'm honored today to welcome Julie Foudy to Burn It All Down. Julie was a member of the US women's national soccer team for 17 years, a captain of the team for 13 of those. She played in four World Cups and three Olympics, is a two time World Cup champion, a two time gold medalist and a silver medalist. In her national team career, she scored 45 goals, had 59 assists and had 272 caps. She also played professionally, including three years with the WUSA's San Diego Spirit. She was inducted into the US National Soccer Hall Of Fame in 2007. Julie has been president of the Women's Sports Foundation and served on their board of directors.
She has many hats these days as she works with multiple organizations to promote soccer around the world, especially for girls. She founded the Julie Foudy Leadership Foundation in 2006 and it's mission is, "Building on a foundation of sports and fitness, we empower young women from all socioeconomic backgrounds to become leaders who positively impact their communities." In addition to all that, you have absolutely seen or heard her talking about soccer on ABC and ESPN. She is also the host of the new podcast called Laughter Permitted. Julie, welcome to Burn It All Down.
Julie: Woo hoo! Wow, that is the longest intro ever. You need to do that for a living with me.
Jessica: I cut it down. You have so much more. I do want to start at the beginning and ask you how did you get into soccer? How young were you?
Julie: I was seven years old, which by today's standards is seven years too late and I literally, I played AYSO for one year and was lucky enough to be on the cusp of club soccer getting popular and so I got on when I was eight years old after a year of AYSO, I got on the mighty green machine. Our name was actually The Soccerettes, Mission Viejo Soccerettes.
Jessica: Oh wow.
Julie: Oh yeah. Green and white striped dolphin shorts. Very proud.
Jessica: For people who are very good at the sport that they do, I always want to know, when did you know that you were exceptionally good at this?
Julie: Oh gosh. Not until my 30s, maybe. Well, back then too, you didn't have any national teams that you could watch. We weren't growing up watching a women's national team. It was very different.
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julie: So, you had no perspective of, or even aspirations. I always loved to play and wanted to play, but I never even thought about college or national team because there just, there wasn't talk about it then, so, there's some innocence and wholeness to that that I miss today, of just playing because you loved it, right?
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julie: And you're hanging out with your best buddies and so when I got on the national team, when I was 16 because there was really no youth national team, so they had to put us on the full national team, I had no clue what I was in for and what the ride would be or even if I wanted to do it. I remember telling Anson, I was like, "Wait. What? What do you want me to do? You want me to go to China? With who?" And he's like, "I'm asking you if you want to play for the United States of America." I was like, "Oh. I guess that's kind of a big deal, maybe."
But we had no idea! It's very different.
Jessica: Yeah. That's so interesting. Well of course, you well know this, but it's the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Women's World Cup, which was a huge moment in sport in general, for the US team in particular. I listened to the very good 30 for 30 podcast about the WUSA, the Women's United Soccer Association, the professional league that started up immediately
Julie: (Groans) Oh god.
Jessica: And yeah, it's a feel good, feel bad kind of thing, but one thing that was very interesting to me that I learned was that you recorded everything on a camcorder. They have all this great audio because you were recording it. And I wanted to know, have you always been a documentarian or did you feel like that cup was something special? Why were you recording everything?
Julie: My friend, Tracy, who was the editor and producer on The '99ers, the ESPN film we did, she, before the 1999 World Cup, probably in 1998, and mind you back then there were no cell phones.
Julie: If you had a camera, you had your little camcorder you were carrying round with us, but no one had that and she, one point she turned to me, and she at the time was an editor already and working on small docs, and she said, "Is anyone capturing this? I mean, this is a pretty big deal. You guys are hosts." And we had no idea, right?
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julie: But she's like, "We're hosting a World Cup. I feel like we should be capturing some of that content." I said, "No. We're not. That's a great idea. There's no cameras around." And she said, "Here I might give you my..." I think it was a Hi-8 they called it back then. It was a small, little light camcorder. "I'm going to give you mine, teach you how to use it. It's a little nicer than your normal camcorder. Just shoot everything and who knows? One day maybe we'll..." Jokingly, she said, "Maybe one day we'll make a film out of it or a documentary."
And so, I shot everything and it became the joke with the team, like, “Oh, Foudy’s got a damn camera." But they learned to like-
Jessica: But now.
Julie: Yeah they learned to work with me with it. Set the scenes for me. I used to always say, "Set the scene. Set the scene." And they'd be like, "Okay. We're here on this trip and..." But it was such a great glimpse into how crazy that team was because it was such a fun group.
Jessica: What is, I think a lot of us fans of women's soccer, we all have the moments we remember from '99, but what is your most vivid memory of that World Cup?
Julie: Oh, most vivid... There's the internal memories and the external. External, meaning it's not a moment on a podium or, although that moment was really nice, or a specific thing, it's just mostly the craziness of it all. That there was an energy and almost like this fan crazed, high pitched chaos always around us that we were not accustomed to of course. To see that build over the course of the tournament, the month, and for us to be walking out before our final game in LA, so say it was a week before the actual game, we were in LA training and we're going to practice and there's just throngs of people and lines of people, thousands of people at practice, to watch us train. And this really high pitched, rock star screech to everything we did and we were like, "What is going on? This is insane."
So, that's probably the thing I remember externally the most. Internally, is the thing that i miss the most, honestly, is just this incredible group of women that, we would sit around and laugh and we had a common room we always shared at every hotel that had the games and the food and the movies, everything in it and so, it was a big suite and we always were in there just hanging out and there was always laughter wherever we went. We never took ourselves too seriously, which I'm convinced is a part of our success, right? Is that we never got white knuckled about the pressure, we always embraced it, loved it, loved each other, we celebrated each other and that's something that it's so hard to replicate in life, that type of bond. And so I think, I just miss that on a daily basis all the time to this day.
Jessica: Did you all stay close afterwards?
Julie: Oh yeah. They're stuck with me forever. I tell them all the time. I'm like, "Sorry. You get me for the rest of your life."
Jessica: "You're not getting rid of me." I love that.
Julie: Yeah, we just had that 20th anniversary reunion with a lot of the old bags, as we call ourselves, and literally, I was just laughing with Kate Markgraf, we just called a game last week in the USA-Mexico send off game, and we were commenting and laughing about how nothing had changed. Everyone still had the same habits and tendencies and I had to text Akers 5,000 times because she's never responding to my text or Brandi shows up late for everything or she forgets everything and it's like, "Oh my god." It's like we stepped right back in line. Nothing has changed. I'm still trying to corral you crazies.
Jessica: Sounds like family.
Julie: Yeah, it is, totally. It's super fun and super crazy, which I loved about that group.
Jessica: And you've been very successful after retirement in sports media, which we talk about a lot, as women in sports media ourselves, how did you transition into media and what was most challenging about that transition?
Julie: Well the soccer part came easy, because it's so familiar, I feel like.
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julie: I think the thing I always wanted to do and I wish I had started it earlier, is diversify more. I always knew that I just didn't want to do soccer and I wanted to try other things, but the hardest part is feeling comfortable enough and confident enough to take on, for example, a hosting role or reporter role on the sideline or whatever you're doing. I think the diversity of what I do now is what is so appealing to me. I always will love the soccer, but I think that was the hardest thing for me, is just learning, since I didn't have a journalism background either and I came into the game very late, into my mid 30s is when I started television. But that's the most exciting and challenging thing because it is just that. It's a different challenge. So I think that's probably what I love the most about it now.
Jessica: I interviewed Mary Carillo for this podcast last year and she said something very similar.
Julie: I love Carillo. She's such a gem. Talk about someone who's a giant for us women in this industry, right?
Jessica: Yeah. It's true. So what was the earliest international competition you played in? Was that 1991?
Julie: Well I started on the national team in the late '80s and... The first World Cup, you mean? Or FIFA event?
Julie: Yes. The first World Cup was 1991, back then called the M&M's Cup because how dare you call it the FIFA World Cup for women.
Jessica: And so, now here we are, it's 2019, we're a week out from the World Cup. So when you look at that stretch of time, what changes stick out to you in the women's game?
Julie: Well obviously more teams are better. Back then you had a handful, if that, of teams who could, you had maybe three teams who could win a World Cup.
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julie: Maybe four. Honestly, it's taken far too long. I would've thought this would've happened a lot earlier, but you don't want to hear me go on that rant.
Jessica: Maybe I do.
Julie: Because it's a long rant on FIFA.
Jessica: Yeah. Yeah.
Julie: There's been such a hesitancy on FIFA's part, I feel, and on a lot of national governing bodies like US Soccer and others, but US Soccer, interestingly enough, is really the standard bearer for this and I wouldn't say it has met the standard, but it is, compared to the rest of the world in terms of support of the women's team. A lot of that came with us kicking and screaming for them to get that, but it's taken a long time and what I didn't appreciate or realize is how long it takes to change cultures and mindsets in different countries that just are opposed to one, women playing this sport, which they consider to be a man's sport or just two, women playing any sport at all. And I feel like there was a great opportunity after we won in 1999 for example, one opportunity there that clearly showed the potential of this untapped market.
And mind you, it wasn't the United States which is different because we've had Title IX for so many years, but there was never any urgency on the part of the governing body, who's mission is to grow the game for all, to actually grow the game for all and build up that market and invest in that market and insure that all these other national governing bodies are also investing in that market or else they won't get any funding and they just never were willing to wield that hammer unfortunately, so it's taken a lot longer. But the good news now is that people are seeing, ah, with a small investment, there's a huge return.
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julie: And my team can get very good, very quickly and I don't have to, as you would on the men's side, invest millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars to get even competitive on the men's side. And what you're seeing is a lot of the world now is starting to embrace women playing. Spain is a great example. They took forever and now their team is very good. The Netherlands is another good example. So, still slow to develop in South America and Africa, on those two continents, but some definite progress. And sadly, it takes the players constantly having to rattle the cage and you're seeing that a lot more, where they're suddenly saying, "What's going on here? This is not good enough."
Julie: Or someone like Cedella Marley, who, with the Jamaican national team, had literally said, "Get on my back. I'm going to carry you over the finish line."
Julie: She has been amazing, Bob Marley's daughter. There's too many of those though. It's like, why can't they just do the right damn thing?
Jessica: Well, let me ask you a provocative question in this line. So Megan Rapinoe, the other day, was asked about changes in women's sport and she had this, I'm not going to paraphrase her because I don't have the quote, but something about thinking outside the box, that these systems for soccer and women's sport in general, they were built by men, often specifically to exclude women and she said maybe we need to think outside of that and Brenda, who works with these South American teams, she's always saying that women's soccer should just go outside of FIFA. That they should do it on their own. What do you think about something like that? Do you think it's worth it at this point, to be sticking with FIFA, who doesn't seem that invested in this game? Or where do you see the future of the women's game in that sense, in the large organizing sense?
Julie: As much as I want to bang FIFA over the head, and I do often, I am less of the mindset that we should divide and then conquer on our own. I think that there is a shift happening within FIFA, but I do think that we have to, and this will come from the players, it will come from the advocates, it will come from the media, we have to continue to push them over that finish line. I do think it can exist within FIFA, but we have to constantly be putting the pressure on them to do so and that's what drives me crazy. So you have to see a cultural shift within FIFA I think and not that you have to blow it up, but you clearly, and that's not just FIFA, I think in a lot of organizations you have, whether it's a conscious or unconscious bias, you have men running it that don't see, on a day to day basis, the needs for the women's team. It's just, they're blind to it. "What are you talking about?"
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right.
Julie: And it's not even a conscious, sometimes, bias, so the more people we can get who are aware and making it a priority in there, I think you can do it within, but it is going to take definitely a shift in culture.
Jessica: I wanted to ask about one particular issue within the US women's soccer. This is possibly the most diverse squad that the US women's team has had, but I think we saw the ways to go on this front, so what do you think needs to change to create more spaces for young girls of color to get into the USA program? What do we need to be doing there?
Julie: My gosh. This is another one that's like, I need some wine. And it's a long one. Well one, we have to decrease these barriers to entry which are fees, right?
Julie: The cost of playing soccer and this is not just soccer, we see this across so many sports. Look at volleyball. My daughter's in volleyball right now, and like, holy shit. There's these barriers to entry where someone from an underserved community or a low income community isn't even going to look at that because there's no way they can afford that or they can't get the training or they can't get to these tournaments or they can't get whatever it is, so we've got to fix that system. And we've also got to start creating leagues and grassroots systems and opportunities within their cities, so that they're not having to leave and go outside, which again is a challenge for parents who both work. How are they going to get their kids to practice when it's not in their community, they have to drive maybe 20, 30 minutes. It's not going to happen.
And then also, you've got to have eyes on these communities, which we don't. Look at the men's side. They admitted they had one, I think, Hispanic scout? It's like, are you kidding me? And we wonder why we're not making inroads into the Hispanic communities. We're not seeing them, right?
Julie: Because they're not playing in the leagues that are sanctioned, necessarily, by US Soccer.
Jessica: Okay. Thank you. And before I let you go, I would like to do some quick Women's World Cup predictions.
Julie: Oh, okay.
Jessica: Since, you are an expert here. Okay. So what team do you think is going to surprise us and get out of the knockout stages or get into the knockout stages? Get out of the group stage and into the knockout, that a lot of people wouldn't expect to do that?
Julie: Well, Spain, I was talking about before, but maybe that's not surprising now. But they're really good. We called that game in January. The US was in Spain playing them and if they had a finisher on their team, I would even say they could threaten to make a run at the World Cup because they can hold the ball so well. I actually like a Scotland, for example.
Julie: Is at their first World Cup. They're in Group D with England, Argentina and Japan, but that's a team that in their debut tournament, could make a run and especially now, with the expanded format because you have 24 teams in, which means 16 go on to the round of 16, so you have four groups out of the six that can take a third placed team.
Jessica: Oh, okay. Okay.
Julie: Yeah. Before, when it was four groups of four, it went straight to the quarters, you obviously could only take the top two, so now that makes a huge difference.
Jessica: So who do you see making the finals then? Who do you see at the end?
Julie: Well I think, USA, France are your two best teams, but if they both win their groups and then win their round of 16, they are going to meet in the quarters. I of course, and that would be in Paris, so that's a quarter final you want to watch. I'm taking the US to win that match, and I have to see how the brackets work out, but I think I had, can't remember what I had in the final. I think I had USA-Germany, maybe, in the final.
Jessica: Oh, okay. You think and the US is going to take it?
Julie: I have US taking it. I do.
Jessica: Okay. They're the best team?
Julie: I think they're the best team, but you never know what happens at World Cups of course, but yeah, they have the most depth. Their front three are the best in the world, I think, when healthy and they are healthy right now and confident. My only question mark with them is their, they've been uncharacteristically leaky on the back line.
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julie: So, their defense, which got them through the 2015 World Cup is, can they shore up that back line? And can Alyssa Naeher, who's never played a World Cup minute, make some big saves in goal?
Jessica: Alright. Well thank you, Julie, for being on Burn It All Down. It was a real honor for us.
Julie: You guys are rocking it with this podcast. Thanks for all you do.
Lindsay: Alright. It is time for the burn pile. Jess, can you get us started?
Jessica: Yes. I can. So we're in the middle of the Stanley Cup finals. The Boston Bruins, as of Sunday morning, when we are recording, are leading the St Louis Blues two to one after a blowout last night, but I want to specifically talk about game two, which was in Boston. Before the game, the Bruins tweeted a thank you to Barstool Sports and it's founder, Dave Portnoy, for providing the rally towels for that game. Because, as we've discussed multiple times over on this podcast, Barstool embraces and disseminates racist, sexist, antisemitic content, including from Portnoy himself, people were upset at this partnership. The Bruins refused to engage that criticism at all. There were certain, I want to say mainly women, in the media, who were asking them to and they just wouldn't. They also lost that game.
One of the unending defenses of Barstool is that only ‘some’ of it is racist and sexist and that we should be okay with the parts and the people who aren't that, which is just such a mind boggling argument, but whatever, people make it. Whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess. But to drive home how much Barstool and Portnoy embrace that part of their identity, Portnoy went on fucking Tucker Carlson's show.
Lindsay: What? I missed this!
Jessica: On Fox News, on Friday night to, as Portnoy tweeted, "Defend myself against the Bruins towel mafia."
Shireen: Yeah. It's, yeah.
Jessica: First of all, calm the fuck down. Second, Carlson himself is a xenophobic, racist, sexist man, who uses his Fox News platform to peddle in white supremacy ideas. It's like no matter how much the men who run Barstool constantly remind us how much they don't care about sports fans who don't look and act like them, it never seems to stick and to see teams like the Bruins, in the Stanley Cup finals, no less, embrace these shit bags, that hurts. It just fucking hurts.
We've talked repeatedly on this program about how exclusive hockey can already be as a sport, this being yet another example of how far the sport has to go in terms of inclusivity. Of course, this particular partnership would alienate some Bruins fans, probably ones who have already at some point in their life felt alienated from the sport or the team because of how racism and sexism are too common in the sport already. That the Bruins are swimming around in the same pool with Barstool and Tucker Carlson, should be concerning to any fan of sport and so I just want to burn all of that this week. Burn it to the ground. Burn.
Lindsay: Uh, god.
Shireen: So this week, I am burning the fact that the French women's national team, yes, hosts of the upcoming Women's World Cup that we at Burn It All Down are so excited about, they were moved out of the legendary Clairefontaine practice center facility, training center, for the men. You're like, wait a minute. The men? Why are they relevant? They are not relevant. But that's exactly the point. They had a friendly. Just like, a friendly to qualify for the Euros and guess what? The women were actually shifted out. Didier Deschamps is the coach of the men's team and he said, "The two teams shared dinner at the Clairefontaine camp on Wednes"-
And then Didier Deschamps downplayed everything and he's like, "Well, the women will have it after we move. They'll have it on Sunday." And there seemed to be a little bit of confusion on Twitter in terms of the rules. You have to be within 60 kilometers of your training facility in order to play etc, etc. That that wasn't made clear. But just the optics of the women being hurried out was absolutely not okay. He, Didier Deschamps, actually downplayed their relocation, which was the training facilities in Domaine de la Voisine, and the point is not that Domaine de la Voisine is not an absolutely beautiful, high grade standard facility, it's that the Clairefontaine has always been the heart and the center of the French program. Always. And that's where those women deserve to be.
Now, I just, there's so much about this, including not just the optics, but the way that, getting out of your suitcase, mental, psychological preparation and the friendly that the men were playing was not as important as, I don't know, hosting the men's World Cup, because I cannot imagine, if last year, the women had a friendly, which they did, the men would be told to leave Clairefontaine because it didn't happen and it never would.
As we talk about parity, as we talk about equity within federations, France, although they're hyped up about the World Cup, they have actually not shown that level of commitment to their women's side and that's unacceptable to me and I want to burn this. Burn.
Brenda: I have a double burn, but it's related and it's old because I wasn't here and so, it's, but it's still-
Lindsay: We don't have rules anymore, so just keep going. You're fine.
Shireen: (Laughs) We had rules to begin with?
Jessica: I was going to say. Oh, that's so...
Brenda: Anarchy. Total anarchy. Look, right. So, on May 16th, the Brazilian national team coach, Vadão, had a press conference where he explained the call up of the players and was asked about the team's nine straight losses. And his answer, about team morale, was that women are simply more difficult to calm down. I want to burn that anyone would think to themselves, "This is a great thing to inspire confidence in my team. I'm going to say, what technical adjustments do I need to make? I don't know. I can just rest on gender stereotypes and explain to the media that women are hard to calm down in the locker room. I know what I'll do." And that's why he's kind of a sucky men's coach too, probably.
And so, I want to burn that entire conference, but I don't want to get away, I can't not also burn the fact that when this amazing tournament takes place, CONMEBOL and the Brazilian federation, who's kept Vadão in his job, has decided to schedule the South American men's championship at the very same time. And I know I've screamed about it before and I'm going to do it the entire tournament. This is such bullshit. There is no reason. They knew about the Women's World Cup for years. This obviously should trump that. They could've rescheduled it and, oh my lord, they scheduled the final for the exact same day, July 7th.
So if you thought to yourself, "Oh wow. I'm Brazilian. I'm going to watch both." No, you're not. No, you're not. So the message is, we either, in South America, don't think women will make the finals of the Women's World Cup, or it's simply not important to us. So I just want to burn those things together because they're happening at the same time and it's driving me nuts. So burn.
Lindsay: Burn. Alright. I'm going to wrap us up by talking about Hank Haney, a former golf coach and commentator, who was on his Sirius XM radio show this week, when his co-host, Steve Johnson, said, "This week is the 74th US Women's Open, Hank" and Hank said, "Oh, it is? I'm going to predict a Korean." And Johnson, laughing, said, "Okay, That's a pretty safe bet."
Lindsay: And Haney said, "I couldn't name you six players on the LPGA Tour. Maybe I could, well I'd go with Lee. If I didn't have to have a first name, I'd get a bunch of them right."
Lindsay: Woo…This is racist, sexist garbage that only belongs in a flaming pile of trash. Hank Haney has been suspended from his job. I think it was the PGA Tour that made that happen, but only suspended, not fired and there are still people in golf who are actually defending him, saying he just misspoke or this was just a case of him being on the radio for too many hours having to fill time.
Brenda: Oh good god.
Lindsay: Well, guess how you could actually fill time on the radio... talking about the US Women's Open like it's an actual event, doing your research and talking about the biggest women's golf tournament of the year, it's happening that week, would be a great time to fill radio hours, right? Instead, he was a sexist, racist buffoon.
And this just seems to be indicative of the idea, of the... There's a lot of good people in golf media, I do have to say, but overall this is very much a sport that, pretty much more than any other, is talked about, run by and controlled by older white men and the way the LPGA is treated by mainstream golf media is despicable and this is just another indication of that. So let's throw Hank and his racism and his sexism onto the burn pile. Burn.
Lindsay: Okay. It is time to look up some badass women of the week. Alright, let's start with Canada's Laurence Vincent-Lapointe, who won gold at the Canoe Sprints World Cup C-1 200 meter event in Germany. Fellow Canadian, Katie Vincent, no relation, I checked, got silver. Giselle Juarez, the Oklahoma pitcher, who was just named the 2019 pitcher of the year. The Women's College World Series is happening as we speak. If you have missed it, I am sorry. It has been phenomenal.
The Ghanaian football team, the Black Queens, collected 10,000 dollars for reaching the semi finals, the WAFU Zone B Tournament, held in the Ivory Coast, earlier this year. They actually got the money awarded by the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, which is a really big deal because it is an indication of how much these women have fought and how big the women's football movement is getting worldwide because it is receiving such huge recognition and that is why the government of Ghana is committed to this course and is actually following through on these promises, so congratulations to them.
We have Leticia Buffoni, who won gold medal in the Women's Skateboard Street Event at the X Games in Shanghai. And the University of Oklahoma legend, Lauren Chamberlain, the NCAA's career home run leader with 55, who this week announced her retirement from softball on Friday night at the Women's College World Series to fellow flamethrower, Holly Rowe.
Now, can I get a drum roll please? Alright. Our badass woman of the week. She's back again, but she just keeps doing amazing things, Caster Semenya, who this week announced that she would appeal the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling that supported the IAAF's rule which states that XY chromosome athletes with difference in sexual development, DSDs, can race in distances from 400 meters to a mile, only if they take the medication and reach a reduced level. Caster is saying, "I'm a woman. I deserve to compete without having to unnaturally alter my body," and we support her in this fight completely. Thank you Caster.
Alright. What's good? What's good? Jess, did you, do you have the same hair color you did last time we talked?
Jessica: I don't. I have dyed the end of my hair pink and I love it.
Brenda: It’s so pretty.
Jessica: That was really fun. My son died a lot of his hair green, which was a promise I made him 10 months ago. I said he had to wait til end of school year, so he's thrilled about that. He and I are going today to see Hamilton, which is here in Austin. Aaron went on Friday because we couldn't all get tickets together because it's so popular. So, I'm just really excited you all. I've been waiting years for this. And then of course, I leave for France on Tuesday, so that's always good.
And then, the last thing I want to mention that Liz Cambage is back. She played in her first game for the Aces on Friday, I believe, but this is more, she took her mom to see Celine Dion in Las Vegas and she Instagram storied it and I'm just really sorry if you didn't know about this until you hear it on Tuesday and they're already gone, but it's really lovely. At one point they're crying and I just love her and I'm glad she's back and I'm glad she's in Vegas.
Shireen: Oh my god.
Jessica: That's what's good.
Lindsay: That's incredible. I'm going to go next because it's a little bit related, which is just, the WNBA season being back last night. Saturday night was the opener for the Washington Mystics. I got to be there covering it and I'm going to be there for all of their home games this year and the team just looked so good. It's in a new arena. It had a sellout and it's a small arena, so that was only 4,200 people, but it's a very exciting atmosphere because it's so intimate and the facilities are really nice and they held a block party for the neighborhood and are really working to bring the neighborhood into the building and so that was wonderful.
I love covering the WNBA, in any capacity, but covering a good team is really fun too. The players just love to talk to you and the energy's just good, so I've got to say, last night, blowout of the Atlanta Dream made me really excited for what is possible for this team this year. And I can't wait to watch it and cover it. Bren?
Brenda: I'm so embarrassed of myself. Okay. What's good in my world, is seeing friend of the show, Gaby Garton, the keeper, taking pictures with Messi.
Brenda: I know. I'm so excited for her and for the... I hope he recognizes the greatness in which he's dwelling. No, it's the first ever official Argentine men and women's picture together. They had lunch together this week and I am thrilled for them, for a lot of these women, it gives them legitimacy for, in front of their families who have had to subsidize them continuing to play soccer through gym memberships and cars and transportation and all of that kind of stuff. So it really was very meaningful. I'm not kidding when I say I hope the men didn't feel like they were doing anybody any favors because those women are just amazing. But it was beautiful for me to see my two favorite soccer players together. So I was really excited and just as a side note, I was talking to Aly Wagner, and she told me-
Lindsay: Oh, name drop!
Brenda: No, no, no, but it has a purpose. And she told me that the US men's and women's team have never done that either.
Lindsay: Oh wow.
Brenda: No official mixed picture because I mentioned it to her and she was like, "You know what? We've never had that photo either." At least as far as she and I knew and I was like, "Oh. Man. Okay. Take note."
Lindsay: Wow. Shireen. Finish us off.
Shireen: The end of Ramadan is wrapping up. I want to say early Eid Mubarak, because when this episode drops, it will probably be Eid day, on Tuesday. It will also be Amira's birthday, which is very important.
Jessica: That's right! Alright.
Shireen: I also want to, so Happy Birthday to our beloved Dr Amira Rose Davis, we miss you-
Brenda: Happy Birthday.
Shireen: We love you so much. I also want to wish everybody a Happy Pride and then next weekend, starting June 7th, the Canadian Sport Film Festival will be happening and I will be doing, on the Friday night at TIFF Lightbox, I will be actually doing a Q&A, after the film, Freedom Fields is being screened. And it's being screened alongside Little Miss Sumo, the Canadian premiere of that as well and it's the story of Libyan women's football and their struggle and strife and Naziha Arebi is the filmmaker and she will be on Skype with me for Q&A, so please come out to that.
Immediately following that, I'm leaving for France, so I will just try to celebrate Eid during this week, wrap up some other interviews that I have planned, so it's a really, really, really bust time and that is awesome. Again, Eid Mubarak to everybody. And go Raptors.
Lindsay: Go Raptors. That's awesome. Well, listen, thank you all so much for sticking with us. We know this was a super long episode, but that is what the Women's World Cup deserves, so I'm not apologizing, I'm just explaining.
Lindsay: Amen. So, but seriously, thank you all. We plan on bringing you lots of Women's World Cup updates. We're not sure how it's all going to work with three of us being in France, but Amira and I are going to be holding down the fort with your weekly episodes. And we're going to do our best to keep you updated on everything Women's World Cup, both in real time, both in analysis later on and of course keep the focus on the WNBA season and everything else that's happening all round the sporting world, so stay with us and I think it's going to be worth it.
You can find us at @BurnItDownPod on Twitter, Burn It All Down on Facebook and email@example.com and burnitalldownpod.com to get to our website where you can also find links to merchandise. What better to watch the Women's World Cup in, than your Burn It All Down T-shirt? Thank you all so much and we will see you and hear from you and talk with you all soon.