In celebration of their World Cup win, the
U.S. Women's National Team had a ticker tape parade held in their honor in downtown New York City on Wednesday. People lined the streets to listen to the players speak, while pages from the team's equal pay lawsuit against U.S. Soccer rained down on them as confetti. The women's World Cup win meant something different to everyone there, but there was one common thread — it wasn't just inspirational to women, it was an inspiration to everyone.
In the days leading up to the World Cup the team
faced some criticism for their unapologetic celebrations during their record-setting game against Thailand, which they won 13-0. Team captain Megan Rapinoe also came under heavy fire for her response to a question about whether she would visit the White House. But at the ticker tape parade, she shared a message about unity.
This is my charge to everyone: We have to be better. We have to love more. Hate less. We got to listen more and talk less," Megan Rapinoe said. "It's our responsibility to make the world a better place."
Her positivity appeared to spread through the crowd. Bustle asked 23 parade-goers what the Women's World Cup win meant to them. Here's what they said.
Katherine Benciuenga, 18
"Their win to me was just a significant moment in history because I've been following this women's team since they won their last world championship," Katherine Benciuenga tells Bustle. "So it was a big dream of mine to be able to come to New York City, because I live an hour away, and be able to come and see them in the parade and just see them all work together as a team, especially Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, just the three of them as captains, it was just amazing. I was just so happy I was able to be here today and I just love team USA."
"It really was just an empowering moment just seeing these really strong women being able to win such a big accomplishment," Julia Drake tells Bustle. "So, even though I don't really follow a lot of sports, it's really nice to see representation of all these diverse women going into this field and playing their hearts out and finally winning something that's so meaningful. It's just a great opportunity for them and I'm so proud of them."
"I mean personally, I think we're kind of in a weird place in America where people, to me it seems like we're a very divided country, but this kind of brings us together, at least for the sport," Oscar Collazos tells Bustle. "I think the sport transcends into our culture, our society, so I think this kind of brings us together."
"I've been a fan of soccer since like 2009, I've been following it and it's great. I see the men's team perform, and they're great to follow, but it's always the women who show us the results that we want [in] 2015, 2019 — it's great to see what they do," Vagisha Pandey tells Bustle. "I think this time, especially [with] a lot of the leaders in the team stepping up not only on the field, [in] the game, but outside, and showing us how to be leaders — how to speak out for what's right, I think it's great to see that those leaders are everywhere."
"I've been a fan since the past, like, 19 years. I played soccer growing up, these are the women that I looked up growing up and a big reason why I played soccer," Anusha Sinha tells Bustle.
"I think, being at the age that a lot of the younger players on the team are, it's just inspirational," she adds. "It means that not only women can do whatever the f*ck they want, everyone can, and we can't let what's going on in our world put us down. And I think, I feel like this is just another golden star for all of us to be happy. And, like [Megan] Rapinoe said, we all need to do our part. So this was just another movement, honestly. These women are amazing, so much better than the men's but an inspiration for them as well."
"It meant a lot, both as a soccer player, and as a women's rights movement," Holly Keepers tells Bustle. "I do think the win brought traction to the equal pay movement, and I think especially with the drama surrounding Megan Rapinoe before they won and President Trump, a lot of people said, 'Well why don't you win it and we'll see how it goes.' And then she won it, and now I think this opens up discussion to what can be done in the future and what does equality and equal pay mean for each group."
"It just means to me that the team, the women, the 23 best friends, they are a whole inspiration to the whole nation, to little girls around the world — that they can do whatever they want to do, that they can be who they want to be, and just live their life without fearing judgement," Jackelyn Olivares tells Bustle.
"I feel like this team had been one of the most influential teams that we've ever seen in history," Karen Reyes-Gee tells Bustle. "They have a platform and they are using it in the right way, and they are promoting everything from equality, love, and everything this country, this nation needs in order to continue to move forward in the right direction. It meant everything to me as part of the LGBT community. This was everything, as a female, as a former player — everything."
"The team has been so good for so long and the fact that we came in with kind of targets on our backs knowing that everyone knows that we're the top squad, and still being able to produce constant like class-act games, even knowing that people are expecting that of us and having so much pressure, was amazing," Mahey Gheis tells Bustle.
"It was an inspiration that if you really work hard, it doesn't matter the circumstance, you can still do what you need to do," she adds. "Especially having so many players who are advocates for equality in all respects, especially with equal pay, which is now coming to the forefront of the discussion about the team, which is amazing. It's a necessary conversation and it's an overdue conversation, and I'm just glad the focus is on our amazing women's team. I've loved them for a long time."
"I'm a very passionate soccer fan, since I was a kid, so I support both women's and men's U.S. National Teams," Omar Albarghoutg tells Bustle. "I like to see how soccer is growing in popularity in the U.S., and how the soccer teams for both women and men are developing every year. And the women winning the world cup for the first time was incredible." (This was actually the
fourth world cup win for the U.S. Women's National Team.)
"Not only that, but also because some of the players are humanitarians, so that makes it special for this team specifically, not just athletes," Albarghoutg adds.
"Their win meant an opportunity to grow the women's game in America, where soccer's not that popular," Danielle Olive tells Bustle.
"Since we were little we played soccer and everything, so it was really great to see, and then I think little kids can then look up to the team," Monica Oury tells Bustle.
"It was exciting, and it meant that women can do just what men can do. ... I loved it, it was so exciting," Jennifer Meyers tells Bustle.
"It shows that women can do anything — they can go against all odds and still be the best out there," Rebekah Wynkoop tells Bustle. "And I know that as women, we have a problem with being recognized as essentially equal to men or anybody else, so it was really just nice to see that they came together as a team, and that's just what everybody needs to do is come together as a team and really show support for one another."
"What it really meant to me was the future for my niece," Yuliana Munoz tells Bustle. "The future for my niece, because she wants to exceed in soccer, so they were very good role models for her."
"To me, it meant that these women were able to, when everyone was gunning for them, still prove themselves as the best in the world," Kelly Meineke tells Bustle. "Especially with the whole dialogue with the president, and how he was like, 'Oh, don't say anything until you win.' And then Megan Rapinoe wins everything, so that was pretty awesome."
"The World Cup really meant a lot to me because it really exposed me to how awesome and amazing the women's team is, in general," Aoune Syed tells Bustle. "I've never seen women play at that kind of level and get the national support behind them, and then of course shutting up the president."
"Lastly, of course, the part about the equal pay — demanding action — because they've proven themselves to be much better than men, and I'm not afraid to say that," Syed adds. "They should definitely get the recognition that they deserve, even if it's equal pay or showing more women's games on the TV or in the bars or everywhere."
"Great, great, great event for U.S. women's soccer in general. I'm a huge supporter of women's soccer," Sidney Chileshe tells Bustle. "I actually run a sports agency in Africa and I'm trying to support young girls participating in the sport. So this is just my love for football, love for the U.S. Women's Soccer Team. It's just a great milestone, a great event, a great trend to set for young girls to aspire to."
"This World Cup meant so much to me just for women and girls across the country and the world," Katie Kolodziej tells Bustle. "I feel like this was the most competitive World Cup to date, I watched it with my friends in Paris."
One thing made this year's win especially poignant for Kolodziej.
"I watched the last World Cup with my dad when he was in the hospital with my hero Carli Lloyd, she's from my hometown. So it was really cool to just relive those last moments with him. Watching this team means everything to me and reminds me of the best people in my life."
"I guess it put a lot of things into perspective because I'm a college athlete, I play soccer in college," Sydney Ziemba tells Bustle. "So seeing girls work to accomplish something so big makes me motivated."
"It meant a lot in regards to the women being unapologetic and being who they are, and just representing that... they can have opinions, they can have thoughts," Lauryn Davidson tells Bustle. "I know a lot of times there's a lot of controversy over their celebrations, but I just appreciated how they were unapologetic of that and cared less about the judgement that they received from others."
"I'm from Panama. I came from a patriarchal society that believed that women did not play soccer," Gisela Burnett tells Bustle. "But I had a family and a mother that told me that if God created soccer then everyone can play and that we shouldn't stop playing ever. So to see this today, 40-something years later is a dream come true. Soccer is life."
"This world cup specifically symbolized how coming together and just proving that if you don't give up you can achieve what people think is really impossible," Sarah Eschert tells Bustle. "I think that means so much not only to this country, but specifically to women, and it just resonates with so many minorities and individuals that have felt like it's hard. And it is hard. So I think that this win really symbolized that not giving up and working together can really take you to places that you didn't even imagine were possible."