Kiwi keeper Jenny Bindon is still smiling despite her side’s 2-0 quarter-final defeat at the hands of USA on Friday. As she explained to FIFA.com, the oldest player at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012 is proud of what the Football Ferns have achieved at the Games and is optimistic about what the future holds for them.
New Zealand may have been the surprise package of the last eight, but they made the mighty USA fight every inch of the way for their win, with Bindon leading by example with a superlative display and even recovering from a hefty second-half collision with Alex Morgan that left her on the deck for a few minutes.
“I’m fine, though my head feels a bit numb,” said the cheery but still groggy keeper afterwards.
“It was a real battle out there and I knew we’d have to dig very deep and front up today. I gave absolutely everything I had and did all I could to stop the ball from going in, which is all part and parcel of a keeper’s job,” she said, before cheekily adding: “And I don’t think Morgan scored either.”
It was not for a lack of trying that the explosive American striker did not get her name on the scoresheet, as Bindon acknowledged: “She’s a great player. We knew it was going to be tough with [Abby] Wambach and Morgan partnering each other up front. I’m so disappointed that they managed to get an early goal, but I’m pleased nonetheless that we managed to pose them some problems.”
After going ahead 27 minutes in through Wambach, the Stars and Stripes had to wait until the closing stages before Sydney Leroux sealed the game. In the meantime, the reigning Olympic champions endured some jittery moments.
“In the end it was a very evenly contested game and we managed to get on top a few times,” said the Kiwi custodian. “Performances like that bode very well for the future.”
Reasons to be cheerful
As Bindon pointed out, one of the reasons why the New Zealanders can look ahead with optimism is the promise of their young players, not least 20-year-old Hannah Wilkinson, who unsettled the American defence with her pace and power and is quite a prospect.
As far as the keeper is concerned, however, the fact that New Zealand stood up to the leading power in the women’s game in a major quarter-final should not be seen as an achievement in itself: “When you’re an athlete and you’re competing in the Olympics, you have to be ambitious and go for a medal. You have to keep on asking yourself what you’re doing and why you’re there. We wanted to reach the next round and things didn’t work the way we’d hoped.”
Accentuating the positive, the 39-year-old keeper then spoke of the sense of satisfaction and happiness in the Kiwi camp: “Overall there’s some joy and pride mixed in with the disappointment. We’re proud that we gave it our very best shot and we don’t have any regrets. We punched above our weight and that’s why we’ve got smiles on our faces tonight.
“I’m the most senior member of the squad and I’ve been playing for the national team since 2004,” continued Bindon, who was surprised to learn she is also the oldest player in the women’s competition. “I’ve seen how the sport has developed, how the gap between the big guns and the smaller nations has closed and how the passion for the women’s game is growing among the fans. That’s why I’m still playing. I’m enjoying myself!”
When asked if she might decide to carry on having fun all the way through to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, the glint in her eye grows even brighter: “I’ve been asked that question many times because of my age. But there’s no reason for me to stop as long as this smile stays on my face and my body keeps holding out. I find what I do very fulfilling and I look upon it as a blessing.”