By Stephanie Gardner

Unlike most American women, my husband has shown me the truth about soccer. It is
a perfect, beautiful sport. It unites people from all over the world, and represents unity
in many war-filled countries. In Cote d’Ivoire, soccer stopped a civil war. The sport itself
is like no other. It can end in a tie. You can have a scoreless game and walk away with
a point. Unlike basketball, where you can score 100 points a game, soccer is a intense
well-deserved victory if you score at all.

Being a girl, I take it all personally. I meet the players by checking up on them with the
help of wikipedia. I find out what they have overcome to get where they are. When I
first saw Landon Donovan, I didnʼt notice his amazing soccer skill. No, I noticed that
when he scored a goal, his wife would blow a kiss his way. In front of thousands of
screaming fans, he would catch that kiss and put it in his pocket. That moment, I
became a dedicated fan of LA Galaxyʼs #10. The Spanish guy, Andres Iniesta, who just
scored the winning goal in the World cup, took off his jersey to show a message to his
teamate that passed away a year ago. The message translated “Dani Jarque always
with us”. Now of all the players to where that shirt, he was the one who scored a goal.
He was the one who the camera was on. He was the one with a message. Things like
this happen constantly in this amazing world of soccer. Once you meet the players, and
you go through the journey of defeat and success with them, you will no longer be
content to read your book when soccer is on. You will sit next to your husband cheering
just as loud, if not louder.

With the excitement of the World Cup celebrating itʼs first time on African soil winding
down, my heart is recovering from the exciting journey it has been on this past month.
The anticipation. The noise. The victories. The defeats. As a fan of the beloved game
that brought 24 countries on an amazing thrill ride, I ask you soccer skeptics to take a
better look at this beautiful sport. I also want to challenge all of you die-hard soccer
fans to share the stories that will cause this sport to be more loved in our country. Pure,
intense, uninterrupted, heart-stopping soccer – and never forget this World Cup 2010
that brought millions together for a memorable month celebrating not only the sport of
soccer, but the people that were in it.

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