A 2018 FIFA World Cup That Bettered Soccer

After watching one of sport’s greatest events of the world, I gathered up my thoughts to say why I liked this World Cup. The FIFA World Cup is a quadrennial spectacle of skill, speed, and play. I can talk all day about soccer, but I’m only writing about this tournament held in Russia- eastern Russia to be specific. All that transpired there led to me liking everything about this tournament. What I liked most about it was the inclusion of video assistant referee (VAR), reaction of Germany’s surprise elimination, and the country’s hospitality, all of which bettered soccer.

Throughout the game’s history, there have been oft-questionable calls by the main and sideline referees, particularly near and inside the penalty area. Constant talks went in and out by FIFA, soccer’s governing body, on introducing video technology to this World Cup, including replay for the referees. In comes the VAR, made official this year before the dawn of the World Cup. During the tournament and after, VAR was praised and criticized. It had viewers talking with mostly praise than chide, thus marking the VAR a success.

Success, however, was not in Germany’s favor this year. Known as the four-time  winners of the World Cup, Germany advanced past the group stage since 1938. Germany began their 2014 title defense against Mexico, and lost 1 to 0. Sweden became the next opponents of Germany, which they won 2-1 and earning them three points. For the final game, Germany faced South Korea. Facing elimination, Germany needed a victory to qualify to the knockout stage. Only a scoreless draw was happening in this game until injury time, this time South Korea scoring not one but two goals. 2-0 was the final and Germany became eliminated, causing worldwide reaction according to a BBC Sport website article .

Russia’s national team was also eliminated despite making the quarterfinals losing to Croatia via penalty shootout, but the country gained respect and praise for hosting the tournament. Major network analysts and world prime ministers were skeptical of Russia hosting a world event. Russia has been scrutinized for racism, negativity towards the LGBT+ community, and political stances to name a few. It was only during and after the World Cup that every thing said and seen about Russia changed- more well-receptive hospitality of Russians in and around the stadiums and little to no violence throughout the event. According to an article from soccer website goal.com, there have only been “few recorded incidents of travelling fans being subjected to the sort of racial or homophobic harassment that was initially feared.”

A tournament without violence, technology to aid the referees, and a early, shocking Germany exit provided a sporting event like the World Cup so much rejuvenation. Viewers, fans who have attended, and broadcasting companies have so much to look forward to in the following years after witnessing a successful World Cup and possibly more good tournaments well-organized in countries such as Russia did this year.

As of now, the next World Cup is hosted by Qatar for the year 2022.

 

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Profile Story- Paige Hayward

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Photo Courtesy of TSU Sports

At Texas Southern University, a vast majority of the Lady Tigers soccer team is women from the United States, and one from Australia.

Paige Hayward is not only a college student in Texas but she has become one of TSU’s most gifted athletes. Hayward is the Australian who is making her mark on the western side of the globe and it all started in the Australian suburb of Earlwood.

“I was running around with all the boys until I was 12 and that was when I got asked to play Women’s Premier League soccer in Australia” Hayward said via email.

With a population of over 16,000 individuals, Earlwood is located about eight miles south of Sydney, the country’s largest city. Most people may have never heard of Earlwood, but now know of it as the birthplace of Hayward’s soccer background.

Paige has made clear that soccer was her life and made it at a young age.

“At 4 years old my parents put me into soccer and ever since then I have never looked back,” Hayward said.

Senior year in high school arrived. She was a student- athlete, active in many sports, and decides to go to college in addition to continue playing soccer. Her choice became University of Texas at Brownsville, but only for the 2014-2015 season.

In 2012, the University of Texas System Board of Regents approved a proposal to null UT-Brownsville and the University of Texas-Pan American. Both schools were still active while the changes were underway. Once they were, the nullification of the schools were made official in 2015, thus their merger to create the now-named University of Texas Rio Grande.

Hayward was to make another decision: stay or transfer. Once she decided to become a transfer sophomore, the search for a new school and new team had begun.

TSU women’s soccer head coach Kathryn Saunders was recruiting at the time and heard about the Australian international.

“I was looking to bring in an international player who was well-rounded both athletically and academically,” Saunders said via email as well.

“I heard about Paige from a coaching friend who told me that UT-Brownsville was closing its doors and a few of the players were looking for a place to continue to play.”

Saunders watched some of Hayward’s film and spoke with her a few times. There she knew she would be a great fit for her program, so did the new transfer sophomore. Hayward did not only choose Texas Southern because of the soccer program and the overall family feel of the team, her major was the other factor.

“Texas Southern also has my desired major, Bachelor of Science in Dietetics,” Hayward said.

Coming to a new university can be difficult to fit in, but Hayward did not think that.

“I was able to adjust to being a student-athlete quite easily because in Australia school and soccer were separate, but now they are both at the same place and it makes it a lot easier,” Hayward said.

Her transition to TSU has worked out so far. Now she is working on her studies while also playing for the university’s soccer team at one of the most difficult positions in the sport as midfielder. As well as a forward, Hayward has the skillset to be a player at the highest level. She may be far away from Earlwood, but her time in Texas is now the next part of her journey.

For information about women’s soccer, visit http://www.tsuball.com/index.aspx?path=wsoc&

For information about the merger of UTB and UT-PanAm, go to http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/article_cec2bf8e-3fd9-11e2-8651-001a4bcf6878.html

TxSU Lady Tigers vs. Grambling State

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Friday’s seven goals was plenty for the Texas Southern University Lady Tigers soccer team as they began their Southwestern Atlantic Conference play with a 7-1 victory over Grambling State.

TSU hosted their rivals at Alexander Durley Stadium and started the game with a halftime score of 2-1. “We need to stay focused the whole game, so we switched off and they get a through ball,” TSU forward Paige Hayward said.

Hayward, along with Ysamar Alonso and two goals each by Marlyn Campa and Kailand Thompson, put their names on the scoring sheet. Although TSU didn’t shut out the opposing team, they remained in concentration mode and scored five goals in the second half to get their first win. “We played together as a team and we finished opportunities when we needed to, especially in the second half,” TSU forward Tiana Humphrey, who also scored, said.

Up next for the Lady Tigers is the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lady Lions Sunday at 1 pm at Durley Stadium.

 

Grading TSU’s Women’s Soccer Team (Midseason)

Texas Southern University’s women’s soccer team has gone through a season of deep focus and continuous effort. In the program’s 12 years of existence, it becomes a time of growing pains before signs of success start to show. While their overall record is a solely three victories and six losses, these group of ladies prove that their gameplay and the sport demands the respect it deserves along with the rest of TSU’s college sports. With that being said, here is a letter grade of their 2015 season so far.

Although three of those non-conference games were losses by an average of five goals a game, the Lady Tigers have only lost by one goal in three other non-conference games out of eight.

“We fought games hard,” TSU defender Maya Turner said.

“We made errors we corrected, but it’s about fixing them.”

This soccer team have kept up with the tempo and the stamina of their opponents.  Second-year head coach Kathryn Saunders sees it as a work in progress in their play.

“There were a lot of changes that occurred this year and these first few games have allowed us to work through those changes in order to see positive results in conference play,” Saunders said via email.

Positive results were visible from their victorious games, which they won by an average margin of about three goals. Their positive results include their Southwestern Athletic Conference victory against Grambling State with a score of 7-1. All that benefitted from their unity on and off the field, especially their practice.

“We are bonding on the sideline. We are smiling and we’re happy,” Turner said.

“Everyone wanted to be here. We are enjoying each other and we’re being productive,” TSU goalkeeper Liliana Hernandez said.

While their season continues, the Lady Tigers have committed themselves to practice and improvement. Both have paid off recently, and is needed for the rest of their conference games, which are pivotal for a spot in the SWAC soccer tournament coming in November. As a result, although it’s in the middle of the season, this team and this sport is already up there in the ranks with TSU’s college sports. Therefore, the Lady Tigers have earned a “B”.

 

TSU Women’s Soccer

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It is early morning at Texas Southern University (TSU). Placed in the corner, near the Recreation Center is the soccer field. Female soccer players are in a huddle and getting ready to practice. In practice, early or late, the team’s preseason is literally kicking off to a rising start.

Fall season is in the books, and while it is only springtime, TSU Women’s Soccer is optimistic about the future. Their concentration on next season and the championship is the main goal for these group of girls.

Even though they didn’t bring one last season, championship is still the prize the Lady Tigers have their eyes on. TSU soccer player and health studies major Maya Turner already knows the task at hand.

“We got a lot better, and I got a lot better,” Turner said.

Turner is only in her second year at TSU, and she sees the improvement in not just herself, but her team.

“Our speed and our ball movement is there.”

This improvement is also seen through the eyes of their head coach, Kathryn Saunders.

“It is definitely our goal (this upcoming season),” said Saunders enthusiastically.

The team’s goals start with the trust in one another.

“I believe we are finally coming together as a team on and off the field,” assistant coach Jordan Creel said via email.

Although she started this past August with the team, Creel has been seeing a lot in her team to know that they are laser focused on the next season.

“Also in the weight room and while doing fitness they are lot more motivating to another,” said Creel.

Saunders, who is in her first full year as the team’s head coach, views her team’s growth as a sign of confidence and determination.

“They have gone through a lot,” Saunders said.

“Their tenacity. They are just a good group of girls.”

Along with Maya Turner, the team is preparing by working out four times a week and practice four days a week.

“We have little tournaments and scrimmages as well,” Turner said.

“Even our communication is better,” said Turner.

With communication comes a goal that can be achieved and increasing possibility, even though there are steps to take in order for the main goal to be reached.

“It’s one game at a time, so I believe if we focus on the task at hand every game then we are setting ourselves up for a very successful season,” Creel said.

Creel is showing optimism in the team’s seasonal plans, and Saunders has seen the positivity in the improvement of the team.

“The fitness, conditioning, and the attacking are coming together well,” Saunders said confidently.

In addition, Saunders also said that the team had success in goals against them. With that been said, they are making other teams having difficulty scoring goals. Not only are the players bonding on and off the field, but they have also bonded with a coaching staff who have a belief that their goals, including the trophy, can be accomplished.

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Can TSU Include Men’s Soccer?

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While Texas Southern University (TSU) has a women’s soccer team, some question why there is no men’s team.

There are college sports that have both men’s and women’s teams, but other sports either have men’s or women’s only, and one of them is the sport of soccer.

Yes, TSU has a soccer team, but it doesn’t include men and women teams.

So, like other colleges in the country, TSU only has a women’s soccer team. Some attending TSU, student or faculty member, addressed why a men’s team is not in place.

TSU graduate student Lora Naranjo said that “the budget” is a reason why there is no men’s team.

Sophomore student and TSU soccer player Valarie Cortez said that there is an “intramural men’s team.”

TSU’s intramural team is the recreational after-school organization, mostly known as a club.

Andrew Roberts, Texas Southern Sports Information Director, said via email, “There is not currently a program at Texas Southern.”

Michael Taylor was the President of TSU Men’s Soccer Club. He said that “historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) do not have men’s soccer.”

TSU athletic director Charles McClelland spoke on the topic.

“The conference does not support soccer.”

McClelland also pointed out factors on the topic.

“From a financial standpoint and gender equity, we cannot add men’s soccer to our athletics program.”

He said, “Women’s soccer was added because of Title IX”.

Title IX is known as the law of an education amendment that prohibits discrimination of sex in any education program or activity. Soccer is where the number of women expanded, and has more women’s teams than men’s in college.

TSU Women’s Soccer Coach Kathryn Saunders thinks there should be men’s soccer.

She said men’s soccer is “a good opportunity and diversity.”

Even Naranjo would like to have men’s soccer as well.

“The men can help out the women,” Naranjo said.

She also said that having men’s soccer will “make each other better.”

But men’s soccer at TSU may not happen. It is unsure if, in the years to come, the school would include men’s soccer.

“The conference does not sponsor men’s soccer at this time,” Roberts said via email.

One thing would be the school’s budget, which is the main issue of adding men’s soccer in the college athletics program.

“They would have to share money,” Cortez said.

There are questions about sharing money once the inclusion of men’s soccer occurs.

McClelland said that “gender equity” is the issue of adding a men’s team to soccer, yet the budget issue is the biggest.

“Limited space, and difficulty,” Saunders said.

“Coaching, staff, the budget, and investing in resources and funds,” Taylor said.

Another thing of the coaching and the staff is that both teams have to share. Adding more coaches is the other element that provides more work for the program.

Since HBCUs do not have men’s soccer teams, especially in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), budgetary reasons also come into play. And time will tell if it can be included to the school.