When I get back from work, the television will be showing a football match that is about to kick off in a short while. In front of our flat screen, some of our family members will be gathering in anticipation of something exciting that will take place.
Just to be clear, not everyone here is a fan of the game. However, when you’re in the middle of a month-long festivity that comes around every four years; even the non-believers can’t resist. Nobody wants to miss the party. The risk of missing out on something special is just too good to ignore.
During the game, for every attempt at goal, loud noise will be heard across the living room. The level of happiness can only be amplified when the ball hits at the back of the net. By the end of the game, there will be a sense of ebullience for some and one in the eye for others.
If you’re thinking that this must be all about the FIFA World Cup, then you’re only partially correct.
Why partial? Well let me just add a bit further from my story.
There are no live games shown on any mainstream or pay per view channel except that it is only streamed through FIFA’s official app. There is none of those pre- or post-match discussions involving experts or pundits taking place. Fact is the moment you leave your home; you won’t find any advertisement related to this tournament. Across town, it appears that in most bars and restaurants, there is no deco or colors that represents what this month is all about.
All right, so what football tournament are we exactly talking about then? It’s the FIFA WOMEN’s World Cup.
It wouldn’t surprise me if anyone’s response out there after hearing me is “So what? It’s only the women’s game, no big deal”. Well, if that is your view, I must admit such validation really irks me even though it leaves me with no choice but to respect your perspective.
Just to hold on everyone’s horse here, I can understand the value the men’s tournament represents compared to the women’s. I’m more than aware that we are not talking about little money here but a huge vast one. Due to these circumstances, it is hard for any potential sponsors or suitors to come on board as ready as they have been with the men’s World Cup. I get that.
If your argument is because the women’s game doesn’t generate the same amount of passion as the men’s, think again.
The Matildas, the Australian women’s team, is having a spectacular run and their round of 16 match against Denmark was the highest rated program in 2023. Their quarter final clash against France is expected to surpass that record to the point that an AFL (Aussie Rules football) match kick off time had to be moved. Those who understand the relationship between the AFL and Australia will understand just how significant this is.
Oh about the match against France? You would have seen the entire 120 minutes of action including the most intense and dramatic shootout in the history of this competition but what about the scenes that took place after the game?
In a country where basketball is religion, the Philippines women’s side’s historic run not only yielded their first ever victory at the FIFA World Cup but also created massive exultation among its people that has never been seen before.
As I’ve gathered, there are plenty of fingers that can be pointed in many directions as to why we are here. Having said that, it would have been much different if the will was there, which sadly isn’t the case at the moment.
The fact that this competition had not one but two representatives from Southeast Asia (Philippines and Vietnam), means there should have been more attention given to this edition of the Women’s World Cup here in Malaysia.
The Women’s World Cup would have also been the perfect opportunity to celebrate women empowerment. I like to imagine that we could have had an all women cast involved in hosting and punditry (or even commentary for that matter).
And speaking of empowerment, at the time of writing this, our friend Khal from Padangbokasepak (PBS) and Rekreasi Sukan are in the look out for potential collaborators & sponsors for their Women’s World Cup Final gathering.
The event is more than just having a get together to watch the Final match as it also includes football sessions for both ladies and mixed category. More importantly, it is an opportunity to gather people from all sorts of backgrounds (be it activist, business, political and many others) in the same forum in helping to raise awareness about the women’s game.
Hopefully, there will be some good news by the time the final kicks off. For all the hard work PBS and Rekreasi has put in, they deserve to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
In the meantime, do look forward to the last four games in this World Cup as we will be crowing a new winner in the women’s game.