photo by Brandi Ortega
“All The World’s A Stage” How the rise and fall of WPS led to a more globalized game.
by Christen Press Playing international football is not always easy, nor is living abroad, or being in a constant state of transition. There is a lot that goes into being a world traveler. The packing alone requires thought and effort, in order to prepare for a successful journey. As traveling is part of being a footballer, I always take the time. I always make the effort. After all, these are small sacrifices in return for a chance to play the beautiful game! So, in preparation for my move back to Sweden, I created a playlist for the seemingly endless flight: a mixture of relaxing songs in acknowledgement of another sad goodbye to home with some uplifting pop beats to celebrate a new adventure. And that’s when I came across Swedish House Mafia’s hit, “Don’t You Worry Child.” I smiled as memories flashed in my mind of friends from home singing to this song at a nightclub and the countless spontaneous dance parties that broke out in the locker room in Sweden to this favorite local beat. The song reminded me that although there are 7,000 miles in between, my two lives are not that far apart. As I turned on this tune during my transcontinental flight, I thought how the Swedish artists performing high energy house music in English is symbolic for the globalization in football. Like the sport of football, sharing world music is a beautiful thing. I relaxed as my mind drifted back, toward my past, and forth, toward the future... How will the globalization of football play out? 6 | www.ourgamemagazine.com
In its short existence and with all its be from different countries. From playing problems, Women’s Professional Soccer international football, I have observed (WPS) was undoubtedly the strongest how much different styles of football women’s league in the world. The seven- reflect the attitude and concerns of the and then six-team organization planted country’s culture. a tight-knit network of elite female At the top of the women’s game today, footballers and seeds of globalization took American soccer epitomizes physical root. The highest caliber of international dominance and mental toughness, resulting women footballers in a fast-paced, intense (including Marta, football style, reflecting Lagom means in Caroline Seger, Kelly a culture that emphasizes moderation or Smith, Christine Sinclair, personal achievement and and Homare Sawa) competition. Of course, sufficient. From a flocked to the United young age, Swedes are I was reared in this style States to play alongside of play. And then there is an incredibly strong celebrated for fitting Sweden, with its culture domestic group. While into the status quo. of “lagom.” Roughly WPS was in existence, speaking, lagom means in very few Americans played abroad, as rosters moderation or sufficient. From a young in Europe’s long-standing leagues were age, Swedes are celebrated for fitting comprised almost entirely of domestic players. into the status quo. Not surprisingly, However, when WPS ceased operations, both their football style spotlights team domestic and foreign players scattered tactics and fulfilling defined roles within throughout the world in search of clubs. In the unit. And although I will always 2011, my former team Kopparbergs/Göteborg proudly flaunt my American competitor FC’s roster was entirely Swedish. Then, for attitude, I’m learning to embrace this 2012 they signed five internationals. For “balanced approach.” 2013, my current team, Tyresö FF, includes I’ve found that when you have a blend of two Americans, two Brazilians, a Dane, a cultures and football philosophies together Dutch, and a Spaniard, all of whom once on the field everyday, these international played in the United States. teammates share ideas, skills, and And where will all this “free trade” in training regimens and grow in ways they football lead? Well, if my experience is any might not be able to in a homogeneous indication, then, I think we are headed in environment. In time, what often starts out the right direction. as a cacophony of styles, transforms into From watching international football, we a very sophisticated melody. Don’t you see how stylistically distinct football can worry, don’t you worry child!
Football is the world’s sport. We’ve seen that for years on the men’s side where even every small country, poor province and remote island manages to field competitive teams. If women playing abroad is not proof enough that a global philosophy is the sign of the times, then how about the fact that both our men and women’s national teams are lead by foreign head coaches? Now, with the commencement of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in 2013, we shake things up again. The league will blend Mexican, Canadian and American national team players with a domestic group and potentially two additional international players per team. The NWSL did not, however, present the same immediate lure for international players as the WPS, and many chose to stay in Europe. Time will tell how this crucial development of the women’s game in the United States affects the world, as many international and American players, myself included, look on from afar with hopeful eyes. As for me, I am determined to make Sweden a part of me, both on and off the pitch. I know there is so much to learn here. But just as significant, I intend to leave my footprint here on the Swedish turf. As a Californian, I believe in the beauty of “The Melting Pot.” Globalization in football is the wave of the future… and the future is now! ■
► C hristen Press is an American professional footballer, currently playing forward for the Swedish club Tyresö FF. She was an alternate for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The 2010 Hermann Trophy recipient and 2011 WPS Rookie of the Year, Press holds the all-time scoring record at Stanford University where she graduated in 2011 with a degree in communication and psychology. footballschristenpress.blogspot.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
Issue 18 | March 2013 | 7