Carrie Dunn blogs from the 2015 Women's World Cup
Carrie Dunn, Programme Leader for Sports Journalism at the University of East London, will be blogging for us during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup from Canada.
Carrie, who is also a freelance journalist, is currently working on a book about supporters at the tournament. In her first blog from Canada, Carrie analyses the city of Moncton, where the England Women’s team have been playing.
“It’s been an absolute delight to be in Canada for the group stages of the Women’s World Cup. During my first hour in Moncton, I was gleefully grabbed by two separate individuals who asked excitedly, “Are you from England? Are you here for the soccer?” Clearly the accent is a giveaway.
“The friendly folk of Moncton – a small, bilingual university town on the east coast of Canada – were absolutely thrilled to have such a high-profile tournament there. They were, admittedly, a little surprised, as were most of the footballing community – it’s hardly a celebrated tourist city like fellow host Vancouver, and the stadium is about a quarter of the size of the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. But nevertheless they embraced it – there were banners flying all the way down Main Street, and all the shops and cafes had official posters and home-made artwork for the event.
“And in a town that tiny, everyone’s staying in one of four hotels, all of which are about five minutes apart. There’s the Colombia squad; there are the Mexicans; the France team just wandered off down the high street; oh, and there are the England girls. For those who like women’s football because of the opportunities it offers for fan engagement, this was a prime example.
“After two weeks in Moncton, it was a bit of a culture shock to head to the rather more buzzing Montreal – but oh, what a relief to have a decent and regular public transport system again! The English accent was a little less noticeable in this rather more cosmopolitan city, and they’re a little more blasé about having big sporting events here.
“Of course, one of the big let-downs of the tournament so far has been the limited attendances for matches not involving the hosts Canada or near-neighbours the USA. Indeed, although the Moncton natives were delighted to have the World Cup in town, very few of them were actually intending to go to a game. And with the sprawl of time-zones across the country, it’s not always easy for fans on one coast to keep up-to-date with what’s happening on the other.
“But then it’s easy to get the feeling that bringing people to the ground wasn’t necessarily FIFA’s prime objective. They’ve talked happily about their television viewing figures in “key territories” – and raising the profile of the game around the world is what they’re concentrating on.
“So after an exciting set of group games, it’s on to the knock-out rounds. Moncton will soon be jettisoned with the effort targeted on the big cities now – let’s see how many people will head to Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa and Winnipeg to see the best female players in the world go head-to-head.”