By 90Min
July 09, 2019

If we had any doubters before Sunday's final, we certainly don't now.

Winning back-to-back World Cups is a phenomenal achievement and shows how dominant the US have become at the top of the women's game.

The girls have really become the gold standard over the past few years, and this success is just reward for Jill Ellis and the team.

Alex Grimm/GettyImages

One of the many reasons we've been so successful is because of our consistency. We were so fast out of the blocks in so many of our games, catching our opposition cold by scoring inside the first 15 minutes.


And when that didn't happen against Netherlands in the final, we responded like a team who goes onto win things. We stayed calm and we stayed patient.


Now, we can look back at this tournament and be proud of what we've achieved. Winning one World Cup is hard enough, but heading across to Europe to defend that title is something else entirely.

But, with Jill at the helm and Megan Rapinoe inspiring us both on and off the field, we've come out on top - and can now look forward to what the future holds. 

It's important to remember the journey doesn't stop here. Investing in the 23 players who are at the tournament is essential, but the focus must immediately shift to sustainability and improvement -  looking at how we further our domestic game.


"Megan is such a unique individual. Not only is she one of the best in the world in her position, willing to put her hand up and step forward when the pressure is on, she's also one of the most passionate advocators of our game."


Fortunately, success brings interest and interest brings investment. ESPN's pledge to screen live NWSL games is a huge step forward for our game, and Budweiser's multi-million dollar sponsorship of the league itself will be hugely beneficial over the coming years.

An increase in finances can lead to improvements in so many aspects of how a club is run. Be it a development in facilities or more money for coaching, every dollar will help improve the pool of players coming through our league system. 

In the long run, that should help bring through better quality players - and help us maintain the standards we have set at this World Cup.

As ever, emphasis needs to continue being placed on inspiring the next generation and winning the World Cup is going to generate such a buzz and spike in participation.

We've already heard that USWNT's home jersey is now the top selling, men's or women's, Nike product ever sold in one season - that speaks volumes for where engagement levels are already at here in the States, prior to winning!

ALASTAIR PIKE/GettyImages

I've seen the support with my own eyes. Hundreds and hundreds of people were out watching the final with their families in my local area, and that's bound to inspire little girls to want to kick a ball around and have a go themselves.

It's human nature for people to be inspired by who and what they see - you begin to believe in the people representing you and you believe in their goals - and who better to represent them than Megan Rapinoe?

Pinoe is such a unique individual. Not only is she one of the best in the world in her position, willing to put her hand up and step forward when the pressure is on, she's also one of the most passionate advocators of our game - and the platform that she has created for us to be able to speak out on issues within the game really is incredible.

What's more, she's a great speaker and is so knowledgeable on her subject - more impressive than that, though, is that she's then able to focus on the game when she steps over that white line - performing to an incredibly high level. 

The team is full of role models like Pinoe - none more so than head coach Jill Ellis, who has done an incredible job bringing the girls together and bonding them into the strong cohesive unit they are.

Alex Grimm/GettyImages

"Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and highlight an issue. Sometimes you have to be brave enough to speak out. Sometimes you have to have difficult conversations and sometimes you have to dare to shine."


She's a visionary figure who really understands team dynamics, even though she's come in for criticism for some of her team selections during this World Cup. You can see the chemistry that's been built up between the girls off the pitch radiates on it - and Jill's knowledge of how to knit a set of players together in search of fulfilling a common goal plays a huge part in that.


This whole process is about inspiring not just youngsters, but the game's current crop of players - and I include myself in that. Watching Rose Lavelle score the second goal in the final, knowing the amount of pain, sweat and tears she has shed in order to get to that point gave me goosebumps - and serves as a reminder that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.


Rose has previously struggled for game time, so seeing her start in the final - having played well so, so well during the tournament - and achieve her ambitions is inspiring and helps fuel my desire to be a part of this setup myself. 

She and Sam Mewis really made a name for themselves at this tournament, and their fight to earn a regular place in the team will serve as an inspiration to many like me trying to breakthrough.

Image by Toby Cudworth

In summary, this year's tournament will be remembered for many magical moments - the support, the quality on show. But nothing has been more important than beginning the long overdue discussion of equality in our game.


There's no doubt that FIFA will look at some elements of this World Cup and recognise we need to make a change, even if it's just small strides to begin with. Having the fans inside the stadium chanting 'equal pay, equal pay' during the medal ceremony is not a good look for anyone, particularly the governing body.


All we want to do is enjoy the game and have fun. We want to feel valued and appreciated, now that we're playing in front of a global audience.

Things will change I'm sure - sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and highlight an issue. Sometimes you have to be brave enough to speak out. Sometimes you have to have difficult conversations and sometimes, you have to dare to shine.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)