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What to watch post season

The first few weeks after a football season always feel a bit empty as I adjust my schedule and attempt to find things to fill the void. A little bit different this year as I’m still singing myself to sleep though with a smile as wide as the Wembley Arch.

It is an adjustment though but there’s normally something to occupy me, and oddly I always get a bit miffed when the whole pre-season circus starts. Clubs who moan the loudest about too many games appearing in pedestrian exhibition games in far flung places. You know who you are.

It’s Nations League weekend of course, which started tonight with a Ronaldo shaped bang. I’m also quite into the Cricket World Cup. Cricket is sport I lost touch with when in America, but the games are on ESPN and I’m enjoying thus far. Then the CONCACAF Gold Cup with the surprise inclusion of Bermuda starts the weekend after this.

Before then starting on Friday and for the next month is the Women’s World Cup, the 9th one. The first ever tournament was in 1991 and full disclosure other than infrequent sideways glances at Charlton’s Women’s team, I’ve never had any real interest in Women’s football.

Yet, I did play a bit of what the Americans call co-ed soccer when I was in Chicago. Full size games in a summer league, and nearly all of those women were ex-college players, and they were good, technical and they liked to drink. I’m still Facebook friends with most of them.

That was 10 or more years ago, and although I had vague recollections of one Women’s World Cup when I was there, and it must have been China and the time-difference would have sucked, I really took no interest.

I watched a little more recently, and the standard has dramatically improved. The women’s game is bigger and better, it has more investment and it is now reaping the awards of professionalism with players fitter and more competitive.

I can also look through the lens of the men’s game at the top level, and roll my eyeballs at wayward passing, poor goalkeeping and flappy first touches, but like college sports in America, these raw errors add to the excitement and the women’s game has moved so far forward in the last decade.

24 teams will take part including many for the first time. In the past it was hard to look past the Americans, or the Germans, or the Japanese. This one however looks wide open with hosts France the favourites, and Holland and Australia also expected to do well. England too. Well, that’s got to be worth cheering. Count me in, I may even write a bit about it.

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