You could see, hear, and feel the significance of tonight’s World Cup Opening Ceremony. Colorful flags painted the dimming sky with the vibrant colors of nineteen countries. Bursts of cheering broke the constant hum of people singing their nation’s anthem or talking amongst themselves. Pride exuded from each player as they held their heads high and entered the stadium, covered head to toe in team gear or their country’s traditional dress,
The following nineteen countries are participating in the 2013 World Cup:
Australia, Austria, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Haudenosaunee, Hong Kong, Ireland, Isreal, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden, United States, and Wales
Before the ceremony began the organizers brought all the teams into the field house to escape the heat. When the teams first arrived, most took team pictures and stayed together. Within a few minutes, people started drifting and players from different teams began mingling and taking pictures with new friends.
Everyone we met was friendly and as excited as we are about being here and getting started. This level of lacrosse demands an incredible work ethic, determination, dedication of time and energy, and a driving passion. Every team dreams of winning the gold medal and wants to represent their country in the best possible way. These common beliefs and understanding unite us, even though we are competing against each other and there are many different cultures present. They form a common thread for all of the nineteen teams to grasp. So while we may not all speak the same language, we understand each other as fellow athletes and competitors. And ultimately, win or lose, we will leave with new friends from all over that may be friends for life.
We followed Hong Kong out to the pitch where we were greeted by cheering fans, including my adorable girls from my club team at home called Scout. The ceremony procession led us in a circle, allowing us to watch the Haudenosaunee team perform a traditional song and dance. There was something special and unforgettable about standing in a circle with all the teams, their flags waving. The ceremony began with a blessing from a local elder of a nearby tribe. They went on to welcome the teams and thank the organizers for all of their hard work. Different people took oaths on behalf of the players, teams, and referees.
My eyes kept being drawn to the flags. I love watching them dance gracefully in the air telling a story of their country with just a piece of cloth. Rebecca did a fantastic job of holding the flag all day. Near the end of the ceremony her flag went rogue and was waving in all directions. She told me that all the other flags were “well-behaved” while her flag was being “naughty”. I almost lost it because it was very true. I looked around to find all the other flags waving gently in the wind while Ireland’s flag wouldn’t stop moving in every direction. True to form, Ireland cannot stand to be ordinary. Even our unruly flag.
Once it was over, we headed home after seeing friends and family. We are ready for our first game tomorrow against Latvia. We play at 10 am and we are excited! Everyone else is in bed, so I will sign off now so I can be sharp on the sidelines.
Thank you to all the Ireland supporters out there! Here we go, Ireland, here we go!!
Check out the great photos from Game Day of the opening ceremonies. I borrowed some of their photos here, and they are quite excellent. What a great way to start the tournament!