A father’s tribute to his daughter and all women athletes

—New creative for the Women’s Euro 2022 tournament reminds Craig Redmond of his own daughter’s passion for sport—

Chronic back pain. Knee, shoulder, and wrist injuries. An incessantly recurring ankle sprain. And a perpetual revolving door, swinging from clinic doctors to chiropractors, acupuncturists, and physiotherapists.

But this one was different.

Hurling her body through the air in a play that Frisbee players call “laying out,” her head bounced off the rock-hard turf like a pinball ricocheting off its first bumper.

The disc remained firmly clenched in her grasp, but the marbles inside her skull had been scattered in all directions.

Our daughter discovered the rising new sport of ultimate in high school, and then made the university team, where she got noticed and was given a chance to try out for Vancouver’s best team.

She made the squad, and it was during one of their countless tournaments that she suffered her concussion, confirming to her teammates the fearlessness that earned her place on the field.

Watching her cope with post-concussive symptoms, however, forced me to pose the hard question. And as she sat next to me, struggling to focus on her studies, I gathered myself and looked her in the eye.

“I know you love this game kiddo, but maybe it’s time to hang up the cleats,” I offered gently.

Her return gaze instantly hardened, and her lips became taut with a fierce resolve. She responded through clenched teeth, yet ever so calmly, to confirm that this was not a discussion but a simple statement of fact: “I want to represent my country at worlds, and nothing is going to stop me.”

Sure enough, one year later I was sitting in the stands at the immense facilities of an elite English soccer club with her grandfather, watching teams from all over the world marching in front of us for the opening ceremonies at the Ultimate Worlds in London.

There she was, striding by with her teammates and beaming a huge smile that screamed nothing but joyous national pride.

Seeing her wrapped in a Canadian flag that we had signed by family and friends across the country, my eyes welled up instantly, and that unforgettable memory etched itself into my mind forever.

I was reminded of that time after seeing the new work for the upcoming UEFA Women’s Football Euros.

It’s fantastic to see a marketing push like this. Because, ironically, the same reason that makes women’s sport so utterly compelling is what also makes the sports world so unfair.

Whether it’s the Canadian women’s hockey team facing off against their American rivals on the ice, or ladies playing to the death at the rugby sevens, or hoisting their soccer gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics, it always seems that much more intense.

The edge of the seat feels like it beckons us a little closer, and victory smells that much sweeter because our women are playing for their pure love of the sport rather than a lucrative contract or exclusive sponsorship deal.

And that’s the irony. Because they are as deserving of those contracts and deals as their male counterparts, if not more, for all the intense passion they bring.

That unflinching, unapologetic devotion to the beautiful game is the adhesive theme that binds this year’s advertisers’ celebration of Euro 2022. From three very different brands, comes one very clear message: This is hardcore footy.

Nike serves up a familiarly frenetic football feast, but punctuates it with a particularly poignant pause when we see the coach lather up a litany of liberatingly “unladylike” language in her players’ laps.  Alliteration aside, Nike also wins hands down in the branding opportunity department. Wait for it. It’s hilarious.

Nike: Never Settle. Never Done

British mobile telco EE leverages the Euros to amplify its “Hope United” campaign against sexual inequality. Despite overwhelming support for the tournament and its world class play, an underbelly of dismissiveness remains. But as this gritty, sometimes gruesome portrayal of female heroism demonstrates, that lingering ignorance is definitely “not their problem.”

EE: It’s Not Her Problem

Surprisingly though, I think my favourite effort comes from travel brand Booking.com. Surprisingly because I didn’t know I was watching a Euros sponsorship ad until the end, so the reveal at its finale provided a true surprise and delight.

But also because a booking in football isn’t a good thing and I’m still wondering if the payoff line was a deliberate wink and a nod, or a charmingly unintentional foul on the part of marketing team.

Booking.com: It All Starts with a Booking

Regardless, each is fitting tribute to women’s football and to all women around the world who pursue their fervour for sport, often against all odds.

As for my daughter? She went on to represent Canada again in France, and despite all her injury woes, continues to compete with the hope of going to worlds again this year. Because, as Young the Giant sings in “My Body,” the theme song that has kept her going through it all: “My body tells me no, but I won’t quit, ‘cause I want more.”

Here’s to her. And all that are like her.

Craig Redmond