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Even as she has seen opportunity

  • July 24, 2018 7:58 PM PDT

    RIO DE JANEIRO -- Adam Krikorian leaned over for a moment, trying desperately to keep his emotions in check. Roger Maris Jersey . U.S. womens water polo captain Maggie Steffens then walked up, put her hand on his back and offered a consoling smile.Steffens and company were right behind their grieving coach, all day long.Krikorian returned to the pool deck Tuesday for his first game since his brothers sudden death last week, and the U.S. made life easy on him with a dominant 11-4 victory over Spain.Steffens, Courtney Mathewson and Kiley Neushul scored two goals apiece, and Ashleigh Johnson had 11 saves while becoming the first black woman to play water polo for the United States in the Olympics.The victory came on the four-year anniversary of one of the biggest moments of Krikorians coaching career, an 8-5 win for the United States against Spain in the gold-medal match in London. But that joy seemed like a long time ago as Krikorian choked back tears while describing his unexpected trip home to be with his family.Leaving the village was one of the hardest things to do, because you leave your team and your family here, he said. Arriving back at home was probably the hardest thing to do, just to see the family for the first time, and then leaving again, home, where your family is.Blake Krikorian, a Silicon Valley businessman and the co-founder of pioneering video streaming device Slingbox, died Wednesday at 48. San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault told the San Francisco Chronicle that Krikorian had gone paddle boarding in the San Francisco Bay Area and was found lying next to his car in the parking lot. It appears he died of natural causes.Adam Krikorian met with his team before practice on Thursday morning, and then left for California. He returned in time for practice on Monday morning.When he walked on the pool deck we were practicing and the minute we saw, like, the top of his head we all just started cheering and waving to him and we were just really excited to have him back, Steffens said. We didnt miss a beat with him gone, but its always nice to know familys all together and we have our family together now and were ready to play.Krikorian, a former coach and player at UCLA, grew more emotional when asked about the support of his players. The London gold was the first-ever for U.S. womens water polo, and the tight-knit team is favored to win again in Rio de Janeiro.Their smiles and their love for each other and being here and experiencing it has lifted me up, he said.The United States never trailed against Spain, with Neushul scoring the first two goals and Johnson taking over from there in a commanding performance in her Olympic debut. The Princeton goaltender said she was really nervous before the game, but it was hard to tell.I felt good with the defense in front of me, she said. I felt like everyone was really stepping up their game and playing how we wanted to play and set the tone for the tournament.This is only the fifth Olympics for womens water polo, but the significance of breaking the color barrier for the U.S. team was not lost on Johnson.I dont really think about it a lot, but it feels great to be an example for other black people to try the sport and pursue higher levels of the sport, she said.Also Tuesday on the first day for womens water polo, Hungary edged China 13-11, Italy beat Brazil 9-3 and Australia rolled to a 14-4 victory over Russia. It was Brazils Olympic debut in the sport. Masahiro Tanaka Jersey . -- Ryan Getzlaf grabbed the three pucks wrapped in tape and held them up to his chest in the Anaheim Ducks dressing room for a celebration nine seasons in the making. Jacoby Ellsbury Jersey . It was just business as usual for the Thunder at home. Durant scored 32 points and the Thunder beat the Bulls 107-95 on Thursday night for their eighth straight win. ;. The winner Saturday will remain in the elite 10-team field next year. "We talked about wanting to be disciplined and stick with our game plan and good things will come," Draisaitl said, who had two goals for the victors. The moment will be unmistakably Brazilian should Marta find herself in Rio de Janeiros Maracana Stadium for the Olympic womens soccer final. The iconic stadium, familiar yellow and green jerseys atop blue shorts, and the swells of the national anthem will make the 11 women on the field the representatives of 200 million people.But none of those trappings were present when Christen Press first played alongside Marta in Swedens top professional league. It was Stockholm, not Rio. The jerseys bore the names of sponsors, not a national crest.Still, the American player saw something that told its own story of identity.She really does embody how I view Brazilian soccer, Press said. She takes the emotion and she brings it to the next level. Ive seen her cry on the field. Ive seen her scream on the field. Ive seen her so jubilant on the field. And just swing from the range of emotions that a player can have -- and that we all feel, but that I think a lot of us, especially in [the United States], try to bury them under a stone-cold assassin-type of mindset. She did the opposite.She just embraced how much she loved the game and how much it could hurt her. And she used that.How much she loved it and how much it could hurt her. Two sides of a coin for womens soccer in Brazil.Just as Marta is the product of a culture that both breathes soccer but also shunned and even outlawed women playing it for nearly four decades. A culture that still struggles to reconcile that contradiction.Just as a gold medal would be the capstone on one of the most culturally influential careers in modern sports but also its own reminder of the limits of any one individuals ability to effect change.Five times officially honored as FIFAs player of the year, Marta is perennially in the discussion as the worlds best female player. For others, the case is made why that label is merited. For Marta, the case must instead be made why it isnt. Best in the world has been her default setting for at least a decade.Missing from the résumé is a major tournament title, Brazil settling for silver medals in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and the runner-up medal in the 2007 World Cup. These Olympics might not be her last chance to win. She will be 33 years old when the next World Cup takes place in France, essentially the same age as the most recent winners of that events Golden Ball: Carli Lloyd in 2015 and Japans Homare Sawa in 2011.Unless Marta chooses to make it so, this need not be a farewell.But there will never be an opportunity for a statement as powerful one made on home soil.Well-trod as it is by now, some of the history bears repeating. For much of the 20th century there was a law in Brazil, Decree Law 3199 passed under the presidency of Getulio Vargas in 1941, that prohibited females from playing soccer.When Pele played his first childhood game, it was illegal for girls to do the same. When he scored two goals against host Sweden to win the World Cup in 1958, the same was true. As it still was when he played his final game in 1977 in front of a full house at Giants Stadium.Not until 1979, just seven years before Marta was born, was the law officially repealed.The prohibition was no more complete than any prohibition on human behavior. There were still girls who played, of course. But the chilling effect was unmistakable, two distinct Brazilian experiences created.Like so many Brazilian boys, Pedro Rita grew up with the sport, anything even vaguely round enough to serve as a ball sufficient. He played professionally in Brazil and moved to the United States, where he is now the director of soccer development for a training facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and soccer director for the Michigan Tigers FC youth program. He isnt Pele or Neymar, but he is one version of the Brazilian soccer dream. He even wrote a childrens book inspired by his own life, about a boy who finds purpose through soccer.For so long in Brazil, it could only be a boys story.I never saw a girl playing soccer when I was a kid or even after I was a pro player, Rita said. It was just a sport girls wouldnt usually play.That, at least, is changing. It has changed even from Martas childhood two decades ago.I think that today we may not have the same amount of girls playing soccer than you see playing in the United States, for example, Marta said through translation when she played two games in the United States last fall. But it is a somewhat greater amount in Brazil than back when I started to play. And also, the sense of prejudice, discrimination was much greater back then, and although today we havent gotten rid of it 100 percent, a larger percentage of the Brazilian population accepts womens soccer in a more positive way.What she does not say is that she isnt just the beneficiary of that change but its catalyst.American Caitlin Fisher first went to Brazil in 2004 to play for Santos F.C., one of the legendary teams in Brazilian soccer. What she found was a second-class experience. Womens players walked miles to practice, washed their own uniforms and couldnt eat in the main dining room. She also saw passion that allowed teammmates to put up with those conditions. Luis Severino Jersey. After returning again to Santos in 2010, she and teammates formed the Guerreiras Project, which states as its mission to use futebol as a tool to promote gender justice and create possibilities for more equitable and sustainable ways of being.It is a grassroots effort to do workshops with children but also parents, train ambassadors within the sport, raise visibility and confront stereotypes. Just how grassroots is evident when Fisher notes that even Aline Pellegrino, a co-director of the project and a former longtime captain of the womens national team, can walk unrecognized in many cities. That stands in stark contrast to Alines former national team teammate, recognizable anywhere.While Marta had to go overseas to find a professional environment commensurate with her skills, a generation of Brazilian girls found it easier to play at home because of her.Marta has had a huge role in this as a role model for young girls and boys as this star icon in womens football, Fisher said. But being the best female player in the world five times over, that she in many ways has transcended gender, has represented Brazil, has been this phenomenal star, that it doesnt matter if shes a man or woman. ... Everyone knows her. Its incredible.I think that has opened a lot of doors for parents and families and others, letting young girls play and encouraging them to do so.But if it is easier for girls to want to be like Marta, it is hardly any easier to actually be her.Where it is easy to track the progression of programs of counties like France or Japan, once international afterthoughts but now powers, Brazil is a puzzle. Its successes, the deep Olympic and World Cup runs, seemingly meandered into dead ends. The team that fizzled in the World Cup a year ago looked more like one trying to hang on to past credibility more than improve on it. Brazil in many ways remains what it was when it beat the United States for the first time in 1997, a group with the talent to do just that but without the infrastructure to do it consistently.Only the prospect of the Olympics brought about at least short-term commitment to change that, Brazilian players training for the upcoming tournament in rare full-time residency settings.We had great moments with the national team, yet we didnt have enough support to go to competitions and get to the point where we could fight for titles, Marta said. Despite those difficulties, we made it. Now we have a better situation on the national team, yet I hope its not too late, because in a certain way we missed out on some of the best moments in the sport, like the [Olympic gold-medal] game in 2004, then 2007, 2008.But I believe theres still time for us to change that, even though we may not have all the recognition we should have.Between the thirst for gold medals familiar to an Olympic host and Brazils specific passion for soccer success in the wake of recent disappointments from the mens team, the Olympics offer an opportunity to claim recognition. As long as the women win, of course.As Marta put it: To demand results is an inherent part of Brazilians.But would results demand permanent change? Or would the same fate befall the womens program that befalls so many former Olympic venues, left to melt away once the world leaves?I do not believe anything will change for the womens side in Brazil, Rita said of a potential gold medal. Brazil soccer is very corrupted, and its being controlled by two or three people that are on top. No matter what happens with Brazil womens team, it will not give them more money to work. Brazil offers nothing for our players. Look at where the Brazilian players are playing and why. The system is dirty and sick, and I do not believe it will change soon.Change from the grassroots perspective might be more inevitable but its pace remains halting.Fishers time involved with womens football in Brazil parallels Martas international career (the latter made her major tournament debut at 17 years old in the 2003 World Cup). Even as she has seen opportunity and access grow, other forms of resistance remain. Gender stereotypes remain entrenched, for example, the womens game in mainstream settings carefully packaged to conform to traditional ideas of femininity (though that is hardly exclusive to Brazil).Theres been encouraging waves and moments and discouraging waves and moments, Fisher said. And its hard to say what is two steps forward and one step back, what is one step sideways. I think there is a lot of that. Its hard to figure out what is progress.All of which makes it hard to figure out exactly what it would mean even if the most visible ambassador of the womens game in Brazil achieved her greatest moment in the Maracana.It is not as easy as imagining a Brazilian version of the 1999 World Cup in the Rose Bowl.I prefer not to think of [the pressure to win] and make things happen, Marta said. And if we get a good result, itll be great for everyone. Wholesale NFL Autographed JerseysDisocunt Football Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Outlet Cheap Authentic Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys China Disocunt Football Jerseys Wholesale Stitched Jerseys ' ' '