The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014 is over and, after 32 matches played, it was Japan who claimed the top step of the podium ahead of Spain and Italy. While football is clearly a team sport in which success can only be achieved collectively, there are of course individual players at every tournament who earn recognition for particularly special and outstanding performances.
As the dust settled after the final in San Jose, the time came to award these players with their individual trophies.
adidas Golden Ball: Hina Sugita (JPN) adidas Silver Ball: Yui Hasegawa (JPN) adidas Bronze Ball: Pilar Garrote (ESP) Japan’s strong, cohesive team performance was reflected by the fact that two of the best players in the competition came from among their ranks. Playmaker Hina Sugita was the linchpin of her team, outplaying every opposing side she faced with exceptional movement, great technique and tireless running. She received the adidas Golden Ball for creating numerous scoring opportunities and goals with inch-perfect passes through defences and into the path of her team-mates.
The second player to receive recognition from Japan’s impressive squad was Yui Hasegawa, who stepped up to receive the adidas Silver Ball after winning the Bronze Ball at Azerbaijan 2012. Her technically gifted displays made a pivotal contribution to her team’s triumph and struck fear into the hearts of opposing defenders.
In addition to finishing as runners-up, Spain could also celebrate Pilar Garrote’s individual award. Her crucial role with Las Rojitas was highlighted when she was forced to watch the semi-final from the sidelines due to suspension - the Spaniards lacking organisation in midfield and faltered in their build-up play in her absence. Her strong performance in the final enabled her team to stay in contention for much of the match, and after the final whistle her efforts were rewarded with the adidas Bronze Ball.
adidas Golden Boot: Gabriela Garcia and Deyna Castellanos (both VEN) adidas Bronze Boot: Hina Sugita (JPN) ** **Venezuela were able to take home two trophies despite failing to reach the latter stages of the competition, with both Deyna Castellanos and Gabriela Garcia scoring six goals in six games during their time in Costa Rica. As the two players were also tied on the number of assists to their name (3 each) and minutes played (540 each), they shared the adidas Golden Boot for the tournament’s highest-scoring player – a historic first for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Meanwhile, Hina Sugita added the adidas Bronze Boot to her growing trophy collection from this tournament after scoring five goals.
adidas Golden Glove: Mamiko Matsumoto (JPN) Japan’s goalkeeper only had to pick the ball out of the net once in the entire competition. Although she benefited from playing behind a strong defence, she was always on hand when needed. Matsumoto looked particularly sharp in the final, making several strong saves to ensure her team retained their narrow lead for much of the match. Her performances were recognised with the adidas Golden Glove for the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
FIFA Fair Play Trophy: Japan received this well-deserved accolade for the model behaviour of every member of its team throughout the competition. The Asian side conducted themselves in an exemplary manner towards both their opponents and the officials at all times, as demonstrated by the fact that the team only picked up three yellow cards and no red cards in six games.
FIFA presents this award based on an evaluation carried out by members of FIFA’s Technical Study Group (TSG), who undertake a detailed analysis of the behaviour of national teams both on and off the pitch. Their aim is to promote sportsmanship among players and coaching staff, as well as among fans attending FIFA tournaments.