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Celebrating the 2023 World Cup: Stories of Triumph and Tenacity

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

By Virginia Terry

As we approach the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals, Girl Rising shines a spotlight on some of the stories that show the heart and humanity of this tournament—beyond scores, line-ups and eliminations. These stories embody the essence of women's sports: raw athleticism, fierce determination, and unbridled joy.

Jamaica: A Remarkable Journey


Jamaica's journey began well before they stunned the legendary Brazilian team. Securing a place in the round of 16 for the first time, they fought against years of underfunding and lack of support. Their struggle led to grassroots fundraising, including a GoFundMe campaign, a testament to the Reggae Girlz and their determination on and off the field.

Morocco: A Historic Feat:

Vogue Australia

Morocco made history by becoming the first Northern African and Arab-majority nation to qualify for the World Cup. Their celebrations intensified as they advanced to the knockout stage. Witnessing their joy as they sealed victory over Colombia underscores the transformative power of teamwork and full commitment.

Linda Caicedo: Breathtaking Feats

Amy Halpin /DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Colombia's Linda Caicedo has emerged as The Dazzler. Beating cancer at 18, she’s been thrilling on the field, scoring critical goals, including a breathtaking strike against Germany - dribbling away from three defenders and curling a right-footed shot into the far corner from a seemingly impossible angle. Whaaaaat?

Rafaelle Souza: Unyielding Passion:


Rafaelle Souza's Brazilian journey started playing barefoot in a city without a single women's football club. Let’s say that again - not one women’s football club… in her city of Cipó or in her state’s capital. This STEMinista (she has a civil engineering degree from the University of Mississippi), team veteran and captain says that she is “living the dream” by playing professionally and lifting her family out of poverty.

Debutantes: Defying Expectations:

Andrew Cornaga / Associated Press

Haiti, Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Ireland, Vietnam, and Zambia marked their World Cup debuts with remarkable feats of athleticism and stories of true grit. While scores tell only a part of their story, their unrelenting spirits shine as they join the ranks of international football.

We fans are the lucky ones!

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