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Interaction: Women’s World Cup goalkeepers

Myers: Hello, and welcome to Tianjin, China PR for tonight’s edition of Interaction live from the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. We are here to talk about some of the issues that crop up here at the tournament, of which the biggest has got to be the performance of the goalkeepers. From that opening match when Vanina Correa let in two disastrous own goals to Rachel Brown’s misjudgement of a long ball right here in Tianjin tonight, all of the keepers here have been under tight scrutiny. Are female goalkeepers worse than their male counterparts? Is it just a run of rotten luck? Or, perhaps, is China PR being visited by that plague worse than SARS, Seamanitis? To find out, we have a panel of four guests here with us. First, the author of several books about coaching football, most recently This Team Won’t Behave, Ms Sharlie Wright.

Wright: Hi Debbie.

Myers: The goalkeeping coach for both boys and girls at Dragon FC in Shaoguan, China PR, Mr Xu Haila.

Xu: Hello.

Myers: The editor of Philippine Sport Monthly, Mr Carlos Avantaugne.

Avantaugne: Hi.

Myers: And the host of Southeast Asia’s popular football programme, TV11’s World of Football, Ms Kamra Pablamntaungan.

Pablamntaungan: Good to be here.

Myers: Thank you all for joining us this evening. Sharlie, let’s go to you first. Women have been making grand strides in all walks of life, but are the many mistakes by goalkeepers in this tournament evidence to the contrary?

Wright: No, of course not. The goalkeepers have also been making some extraordinary plays and keeping their respective teams in many games.

Myers: Xu, would you agree?

Xu: Well, as you mentioned Debbie, I coach both boys and girls. I can assure you that they both make errors at approximately equal rates.

Myers: That’s very interesting. Carlos, could this harm the public’s perception of women’s sport in general?

Avantaugne: Not at all.

Myers: Kamra, can you characterise the general feeling about women’s football in Southeast Asia for us?

Pablamntaungan: I think that the feeling of most people about women’s football is that they know that some women play football.

Myers: That’s it?

Pablamntaungan: That’s about it, yes.

Myers: Xu, is the same true in China?

Xu: Here in China, the public appreciates those sporting heroes who play with honour and intensity, regardless of gender.

Myers: All right then. We now continue to questions from you, our viewers. There are a number of ways you can get your questions to us, and they include telephone, text message, E-mail, snail mail, and facsimile. You can now see the information about each of those options on your screen. You know, there’s something that’s been bothering me. Why do we still show the postal mail address? That’s only good for writing in a question about next week’s programme, and we rarely get questions by postal mail regardless. Have we got a question by postal mail today? Fantastic. It’s from Gertude in London, England, UK, and she says that there is one keeper who has not made a single error throughout the tournament, and it is England’s very own Rachel Brown. And I believe this illustrates why we should no longer take questions by postal mail.

Pablamntaungan: Excuse me, Debbie.

Myers: Yes?

Pablamntaungan: I think that this question was written prior to today’s match, in which Rachel Brown misjudged a long pass and let it get over her head, which led directly to the USA’s third goal.

[Pause.]

Myers: Yes, thank you for clearing that up in redundant fashion. We now have another question from Juliet in Accra, Ghana. Juliet, are you there?

Juliet in Accra: Yes, I am.

Myers: Good evening Juliet. What is your question?

Juliet in Accra: Well, I am a fan of the goalkeeper of our national team, Memunatu Sulemana, and I would like to take this opportunity to criticise those who are criticising her. She performed well throughout the tournament and gave us Ghanaians much to be happy about.

Wright: Hold it, hold it. What about the Australia match, when she was caught out of position twice?

Juliet in Accra: When the opposing players are fast, it often looks like you are out of position when you are really not.

Avantaugne: That’s deep.

Myers: No it isn’t. We now have our next question. Cynthia from San Pedro, CA, USA asks why commentators are making such a big deal out of the goalkeeping at this Women’s World Cup when male goalkeepers make far more egregious blunders. Xu, as a goalkeeping coach at a youth team, do spectators scrutinise the female players more than they do the male players?

Xu: No. I have noticed that many parents are extremely harsh regardless of whether their child is a boy or a girl.

Wright: Well, it sounds like that is one thing that’s true all around the world. Parents are extremely harsh on their children when they are playing sports.

Xu: Yes, that is true here in China as well. Traditionally in China it is the coaches’ job to be extremely harsh on the children, but now that role is being usurped by the parents.

Myers: Well, we now move on to another question. Marinette in Marseille, France, are you there?

Marinette in Marseille: Hello.

Myers: Hello Marinette. What is your question?

Marinette in Marseille: Yes, I would like to respond to the earlier remark that it can look like you are out of position when players on the opposing team are fast.

Myers: Yes?

Marinette in Marseille: Well, when the players on the opposing team are fast, should one not consider that when taking one’s position?

Myers: An interesting consideration. Carlos?

Avantaugne: Yes, you should.

Pablamntaungan: It sounds kind of silly not to, I would say.

Wright: Well, at the younger ages, it’s generally best not to overcomplicate the situation by presenting the players with detailled scouting reports. You can save that for when they enter the youth system of a major club.

Myers: Xu, do you teach your goalkeepers to adjust their positioning according to the opposing team’s abilities?

Xu: Yes, I do. They do not listen, but I am always careful to point out that I told them so.

Myers: No doubt stunting their emotional development in the process. That is all for Interaction this week. We wish to thank Ms Kamra Pablamntaungan, Mr Carlos Avantaugne, Mr Xu Haila, and Ms Sharlie Wright for being here at this hour. We will travel to Shanghai next weekend to look ahead to the final of the 2007 Women’s World Cup, which many are hoping will pit Germany against the United States. Joining us then will be a football columnist, a social commentator, the woman who wrote the book on officiating women’s football, and the woman who would have written the book about announcing women’s football if not for an extremely inconvenient case of writer’s block. So until then, keep in mind that you can submit your questions for next week’s programme on our website, interaction.goobnet.net. Good night from Tianjin.

Pablamntaungan: I would also like to point out that a Germany-United States final will indeed happen if they both win their respective semifinals.

Myers: Yes, I believe that follows from the definition of the word semifinal.

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