World Cup Journey: Boston to Edmonton and Opening Day

It’s hard to describe my excitement for the beginning of the 2015 Women’s World Cup. I’ve been planning for this tournament ever since Canada was announced as the winning bid in early 2011. The week leading up to my flight to Edmonton was like waiting to meet someone in person I’d been dating online for four years. Would I end up getting catfished or would it be the greatest moment of my life?

I left home at 4:30 in the morning to make a 6 AM flight. Most of that flight and the one connecting Minneapolis to Edmonton I spent in a dozy haze, alternately nodding off and jerking back up when my neck developed too much of a crick.

In Edmonton I muddled my way through a combination of public transportation and taxis to get to the hotel I was sharing with Gab. I contemplated taking a nap; my body was nearly running on empty but my mind was screaming in anticipation. I chugged caffeine instead, met up with a friend for dinner, and passed out that night thinking that it still didn’t feel real.

It only felt real when I was actually at Commonwealth Stadium, watching a stream of red-and-white jerseys flowing into the entrances. I’d had brunch and drinks earlier with a bunch of Canadians before getting to the stadium early and having another drink or four at a nearby pub. We found our seats feeling pretty jolly about life, with our face paint and our sunscreen and our shockingly not overpriced beers. I was in the supporter’s section, sitting with the Voyageurs. For opening day of the World Cup in Canada, there was nowhere better to sit.

The opening ceremony was ten minutes start to finish, with little fanfare before Sarah McLachlan marched out, stepped up on a small round stage, crooned a song, then threw it to Tegan & Sara. Both twins were wearing asymmetrical baggy jumpsuits that are otherwise hard to describe without a fashion background, but they gave a game performance while a small army of girls danced around them. The flagbearers came out, fireworks went off, and we passed a giant tifo overhead to wave in our end of the stadium.

The game itself, you’ve already read all about.  The best part was obviously Christine Sinclair’s penalty kick; the stands around us went wild when she scored.  The stadium went wild. Canada went wild. I’m sure maple leaves across the country spontaneously turned red.

We stuck around for the second game, Netherlands vs. New Zealand. There was a cheerful and mildly rowdy group of Kiwi supporters behind us, with pockets of Dutch fans scattered around the stadium in blobs of orange. By this time I’d been standing in direct sunlight for about three hours and hadn’t really had enough water combined with really having too much beer. Like some kind of rookie, I hadn’t brought any medication with me, but luckily Sarah Groube of The Womens Game came to my rescue at dinner with two beautiful tabs of ibuprofen.

Dinner with a bunch of likeminded women who are all deeply knowledgeable fans of the game was the cherry on top of a great day. They were playing highlights of the Canada/China game over and over at our pub and every time we’d stop, turn around, and watch that beautifully placed penalty kick. My headache receded. I ate with gusto. I loved everyone in that bar.

Back at the hotel, I made a valiant attempt to catch up on social media. After going back 600+ tweets I resigned myself to just never knowing what my twitter feed thought of the game in real time and passed out. I had an early start the next day

- thrace