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Friday, August 10, 2012

A team-oriented reaction put the exclamation point on Canada’s Olympic breakthrough in soccer

It wasn’t just Canadians who responded to the courageous effort put forward by the Canadian National Women’s Soccer team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.  Many sports enthusiasts around the world warmed to the squad’s show of skill, determination and pride in fighting back from a less than stellar result at last year’s Women’s World Cup (and a tough loss in the semi-finals to the number-one ranked U.S. side just a few days ago), to capture a well-earned bronze at the prestigious Olympic event.

Perhaps the most touching moment of the entire tournament for Canadian supporters was the reaction of Diana Matheson, after the Canadian player knocked home the winning goal in the bronze-medal game against France in the 92nd minute.  Matheson’s joy was certainly obvious, but her immediate reaction was to point to the front of her jersey crest.  Unlike so many athletes nowadays whose first instinct is to draw attention to themselves (even at times to the extent that they automatically point to their own name on the back of their jersey after they score a goal), Matheson’s response—pointing to the Canadian crest—was instant and obviously genuine, and sent a wonderful message to young athletes around the world.

There is an old expression, that athletes should play for the name on the front of their jersey (team or country) rather than the name on the back—their own.  This notion gets lost all too often in a sports world driven by money and ego.

But for a brief moment, when the Canadian team overcame many odds to achieve something special at a major event, a small gesture seemed to mean the world.