“I don’t have time for hobbies. At the end of the day, I treat my job as a hobby. It’s something I love doing.” – David Beckham

Just as it is vital for athletes to train and prepare themselves for competition, it is also important for coaches to seek out professional development opportunities to increase their knowledge base and add to their toolkit. To continue my education as the head women's soccer coach at Muhlenberg College, I took the opportunity to be a part of an eleven-day United Soccer Coaches 2019 Cup Experience from June 10-21.  The Cup Experience included eight FIFA World Cup games in eleven days as the foundation and featured presentations by the national team staff for Jamaica and Scotland and high level coaches and physical trainers from the professional French clubs Olympique Marseille and Olympique Lyon.  The education portion of the experience was led by Nancy Feldman (head coach at Boston University) and April Heinrichs (captain of the 1991 US World Cup Champion team and former USWNT coach).

Our daily schedule varied quite a bit and we were able to travel all over France from Paris, Reims, Versailles, Marseille, Lyon, and Honfleur to take in all three USA group stage games and some incredible match-ups like Germany vs. Spain and Scotland vs. Argentina. The second game I watched in France was the 13-0 USA blow-out against Thailand—which featured 10 goals in the second half and lit the big pro-American crown in fire—what a start to the tournament! The next few days featured a close 1-0 Germany vs. Spain game that featured two contrasting styles of play as well as a 5-0 Italian victory over Jamaica which highlighted how much a team like Italy is improving in just their second World Cup.

After the Cup Experience, I was blessed to be able to continue to watch World Cup games in France, including the USA vs. France match, both semi-finals, and as they say in France, the Finale. I am a proud USA fan who enjoyed every minute of the seven victories that allowed the US Women’s National Team to raise the cup for the fourth time.  The best game of the tournament was certainly USA vs. France which took place in Paris; with a feisty French crowd and the two best teams in the tournament duking it out for over 90 minutes. The environment was electric and the quality on the pitch was unbelievable.

As I reflect back over my 2019 World Cup experience, I want to share some of my biggest take-aways from the tournament.  This was a fast World Cup with a high speed of play and transition displayed by many elite technical players who moved the ball quickly with minimal touches. The soccer intelligence and interchange between positions meant systems of play were very fluid and players were called upon to take on a lot of different roles—every player had to be a play-maker at some point in time and defend and attack well.  There was excellent movement and interchange in the wing/wide areas of the field and that along with the variety of service meant more great headers.  The goalkeepers really showcased their skills and diving range in this World Cup and made numerous exciting, world-class saves.  I feel very privileged to have experienced so many WWC games and took away some priceless memories and insight. I cannot wait to get back on the field with my college team and staff as well as the Penn Fusion players and share more of this beautiful game with them.


Kelly Wakeman

Head Women's Coach, Muhlenberg College

Associate Head Coach 2006 Girls, Penn Fusion Lehigh Valley