BLOG: Natalia Gomez-Junco Writes from FIFA U20 World Cup
Aug. 19, 2012
MIYAGI, Japan - Three Memphis women's soccer players are representing their respective countries in the FIFA U20 World Cup throughout Japan. The U20 World Cup began today with Natalia Gomez-Junco and Mexico facing the host Japan.
Gomez-Junco took some time yesterday to pen this blog for GoTigersGo.com. Japan came away with a 4-1 victory in the match early this morning.
Well it was 4:30 am and we were already in the bus waiting to ride to the airport. I have some trouble waking up that early, definitely not one of my favorite things in the world. But I was excited since in a little more than a day, I was going to finally be in Asia, a couple of weeks before to our first game. Our flight for Vancouver left at 9 am, and it was a five-hour flight to the Canadian city, which from what I could see out the plane's window, it is beautiful! The snow covered mountains on the back and green, tropical islands close to us. From there, we flew to Tokyo, which was a 9-hour flight. We had to wait there several hours and from there, we flew two hours to Seoul, the capital of South Korea. When we got there, we had a one-hour bus ride to the place we stayed at, the facilities of the Korean Football Association. In total, it was a 29-hour trip, so we were exhausted by the time we got there. And the 14-hour difference between Mexico City and Paju, the city we were at, made it far worse.
I had the goal to become an expert eating with chopsticks by the time we left, which I can say, I did improve but I'm not an expert yet. They left us hand towels in the rooms for taking showers, which at first was kind of uncomfortable, but you get used to it. They use everything as small as they can, like the paper cups and napkins. Everything is small and disposable to save resources. They recycle absolutely everything, and every space is taken advantage of. It is definitely a very interesting culture. The people in Korea are very nice too, and I learned the basic words like hello, thank you and goodbye.
From my room, I could see a river, which they later explained to us divided South Korea from North Korea. In those facilities, we played China on August 8. We lost 2-1, and the heat and humidity were horrible. We didn't play our best soccer and suffered this loss. But some days after, we played South Korea in the Paju Public Stadium. We improved a lot from our first match and tied 2-2. On August 14, we played our last preparation game against a team from the Korean women's league, called Suwon. We won 3-0, and improved even more. The next day, we flew two hours from Seoul to Tokyo. From there, we took an hour and a half train to Sendai, and from there, an hour-long bus ride to our hotel in Miyagi, where our first two games are.
The food here has been decent; since our staff chooses our menu and it is not Japanese food everyday like you would think. The days in this hotel have been ETERNAL waiting for the day of our debut. But it is finally here, and in a few hours, we'll be opening the tournament against the host team Japan. I can't put in words what I have felt the last 24 hours. I have never felt so anxious and excited before. I have replayed the moment at least a thousand times in my head the past few months and it's finally here!!! We expect the stadium to be at or near its full capacity, around 50,000 people. This just gives me chills and makes me even more excited!! And Canada plays tomorrow, wishing them the best luck in their tournament!! And hoping to see Dro and my chiquita soon, which will be hard since we play in different cities. I miss Memphis and everyone!!! I am excited that when all of this is over, I will go back with all of you guys! VIVA MEXICO!