Updated: Sep 27
Making and Missing Goals in Soccer and Parrot Conservation
Women's World Cup soccer in Sydney, Australia, August 2023
Seeing yellow-tailed black cockatoos in Sydney, Australia
before the final game of the World Cup
Megan Rapinoe, a star player for the women's USA soccer team, made some inspiring comments during a recent interview after Sweden eliminated the USA in the World Cup in Australia. Meagan failed to make a crucial goal in overtime, and the US lost by one goal. Here are some excerpts from her interview with Franklin Foer:
Rapinoe: For a long time, I have thought about missing one in a really big moment. What are you going to do? The only other thing you could do is to not take one. I’m not going to do that. I would rather step up and be in that moment. And I think that’s something that made the criticism after that loss particularly fake and disingenuous and absurd and outrageous to me. It’s like, you’re going to bash on me for getting out there and trying my best?...But in the end, I think we played as good as we could, and we tried as hard as we could, and sometimes you lose. It’s hard to win everything. That’s part of life, and that’s a beautiful part of sport to me.
Foer: What went through your mind when you stepped up to take that kick against Sweden that you missed?
Rapinoe: I’m going to score.
Watching soccer in Adelaide, Australia, July 2023
Watching soccer in Brisbane, Australia, July 2023
Meredith Garmon watching soccer in Wellington, New Zealand, August 2023
LoraKim Joyner watching soccer in Sydney, Australia, August 2023
I saw that game online as well as many others, and went to several live games recently in Australia and New Zealand. Representing One Earth Conservation, Board member Meredith Garmon and myself journeyed through these countries looking for parrots and watching the women’s World Cup that was played in these wondrous lands. The days were full of parrots, goals missed, and long games where there was a hair’s width between winning and losing. In the background was the constant reminder of how women’s soccer is more than about soccer, but a striving of women for equality and resistance to the patriarchal domination in society. Also, never far away, was the devastation of these colonized lands where so many species and peoples have been subjugated to the same forces that have hurt people and parrots together.
Me (LoraKim) taking a penalty kick in Guatemala in the early 1990s. (yes I scored!)
Some of our team in Guatemala in the early 1990s - playing
for parrots and women's flourishing
There was ample opportunity then, and a spaciousness of time to ponder parrot conservation, here and at home. Soccer and parrots crisscrossed in my mind and over these broad landscapes in which we traveled. This is not the first time that soccer and parrots have merged in my life. In the 1990s I led a parrot conservation effort in Guatemala during the Civil War and one of our conservation strategies was to advance empowerment of women by sponsoring a women’s and girls' soccer league. We also spread awareness of parrots by adopting “la lora” (the parrot) as our mascot. Women involvement is paramount in conservation, and well, in most everything. We need to women to be free to flourish so that they in turn can contribute to the flourishing of the biotic community.
Kea parrot in Arthur's Pass, New Zealand, August 2023 (above and below)
Megan’s words also remind me of conservation. Indeed, they teach me. It seems that we lose as much as we win, and that there isn't much distance between these two outcomes. We often don’t make the goals we set for ourselves. There can be plenty of self-blame, and blame of others, when in actuality conservationists are putting everything into what they are doing. Their commitment is intense, as is the risk of knowing they might not reach their goals. When failures come, and they will come, an intentional practice of seeing the “big picture” and accepting that the tragedy in this world is part and parcel of life, helps one stay in the game. The only other option is to not step up and do conservation. Instead we seek to be "in the moment."
Greater sulphur-crested cockatoo in Adelaide, Australia, July 2023
Rainbow Lorikeet, Adelaide, Australia, July 2023
Rejuvenated after seeing such beauty in these lands, I take home another message from soccer. Every day is a chance to make a difference. Every activity and every breath can help us reach the goal. With the blessing of grace, we can meet most days with the attitude of “We are going to save ourselves and this earth.” Then even though we might fall short of our goals, everyone wins.
Galah foraging on the ground, Gundagie, Australia, July 2023
Red kangaroos in the mist, Gundagie, Australia, July 2023