REIMS, FRANCE - JUNE 14: The Jamaica players form a team huddle prior to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group C match between Jamaica and Italy at Stade Auguste Delaune on June 14, 2019 in Reims, France. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

FIFAWWC Countdown: Day 51 - Three Biggest Underdogs

Marching into Day 51 of Edge of the Crowd's epic 70-day lead-up to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, we've decided it's an apt moment to delve into the treasure trove of unforgettable episodes that have defined the history of the Women's World Cup. Today, we spotlight some of the biggest underdogs ever to take part in the crown jewel of women's football, the FIFA Women's World Cup.

1. Japan’s Triumph (2011)

The 2011 Women’s FIFA World Cup held in Germany is where one of the most unforgettable underdog stories in sports history was written. It was here that the Japanese national team, in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity, showcased their unwavering spirit and resilience. The team had to face formidable opponents at each tournament stage, every game a battle in itself. However, their tenacity saw them through to the final where they would face a daunting challenge: the United States, a global powerhouse in women’s soccer.

The Final was a breathtaking display of skill and determination from both teams, but it was the Japanese team that emerged victorious, securing their first-ever Women’s World Cup title. Their victory was not just a triumph in sports, but it was a statement to the world of the power of perseverance and unity. The Japanese team, despite being the underdogs, had not only stood against the giants of women’s soccer but had also overcome them. Their journey from being the underdogs to becoming world champions remains one of the most inspiring stories in Women’s FIFA World Cup history.

The 2011 Japanese team’s success, however, was not just a victory on the field. It was a triumph that transcended sports, providing hope and inspiration to their home country, which was still recovering from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Their victory brought joy to a nation in mourning and proved that with unity and perseverance, even the toughest challenges could be overcome.

2. Vietnam’s Long Shot (2023)

In the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Vietnam will make its debut as a significant underdog. Debuting in one of the world’s biggest sporting events is a daunting task in itself, and for Vietnam, the challenge is even more considerable. The team is such an underdog that bookmakers are offering odds of 1000-1 for the Vietnamese to lift the trophy. These long odds highlight the mountain the team has to climb in the tournament.

The Vietnam women’s team’s journey to the Women's World Cup is a testament to the growth of women’s soccer in the country. Despite the lack of resources and support, these women have shown that with passion and determination, it’s possible to compete at the highest level. Their story inspires young girls in Vietnam and around the world, showing that no obstacle is too big to overcome when you have the will to succeed.

Edge of the Crowd partners with Her Game Too for the Women's World Cup, uniting our passion for diversity and inclusivity in sports. Together, we aim to dismantle barriers, tackle sexism, and amplify women's voices in the sporting realm. Join us in celebrating the spirit of the beautiful game, free of gender constraints. The love for the game knows no gender; let's make every game, Her Game Too. Head to @HerGameToo on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to learn more.

3. Reggae Girlz Qualify (2019)

The Jamaican women’s national team’s journey to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup was a classic underdog story. The team, known as the Reggae Girlz, faced significant challenges, most of them off the pitch. Despite being ranked 43rd in the world, they had to contend with issues ranging from subpar planning and poor accommodations to unsatisfactory training conditions and late payments. The situation was so dire that a crowdfunding campaign was set up to cover the team’s Women’s World Cup expenses.

Despite these hurdles, the team went from strength to strength, largely due to the influence of Cedella Marley and the Reggae Girlz Foundation. Their rise in the face of adversity was a testament to their tenacity and resilience. On the pitch, the team continued to improve, showing their strength and skill in every game. Off the pitch, they faced every challenge head-on, refusing to be deterred by the obstacles they encountered.

Their journey to their maiden World Cup, despite the odds and adversities, was more than just a sporting event. It was a statement to the world and a beacon of hope to every underprivileged and underfunded team out there. It was a story of how, with determination and passion, even the most significant challenges can be overcome. The Reggae Girlz’s journey to the Women's World Cup, their fight against the odds, and their refusal to give up in the face of adversity, serve as a shining example to all.

The impact of their World Cup journey goes beyond the football field, it is a testament to community. It highlights the power of collective effort and the importance of support structures. The role of the Reggae Girlz Foundation and the crowdfunding initiative underscores the importance of community support in the face of institutional shortcomings. It also brought to the fore the issues of gender disparity in sports funding and the need for more equitable structures. The Reggae Girlz’s story isn’t just about a team; it’s about a community, a nation, and ultimately, the entire world of women’s football, standing up to challenge the status quo.

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Also don't forget to listen to the Australian World Cup Podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. New episode out now!