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Gina dives in

Pols and pools; the US embraces the beautiful game; see a genius on the 4th
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  July 2, 2014

General Treasurer Gina Raimondo definitely stole a march on Providence Mayor Angel Taveras on his own turf at the opening of the Davey Lopes Recreation Center pool on June 30.

Taveras had initially opposed renovation of the inner city pool in South Prov last year, which earned him an earful from local residents and city councilors before he ultimately pulled a U-turn and supported restoring the community resource. So naturally Hizzoner was conspicuously absent from the opening ceremonies to avoid any possible vitriol, sending an aide instead. Wow. Bow-wow.

Not so his Democratic gubernatorial primary rival Raimondo, who soaked up praise from supporters in celebration of the pool’s opening, and doubtless won major points among the community in the process. She also joined attendees in joyously heading into the water in full campaign dress clothes to add the cherry on top.

As Taveras always reminds us, he was brought up poor in La Prov. But we find it hard to believe he has forgotten how wonderful it was to be a kid and have a beautiful swimming pool at your disposal when the temperatures hit the 90s, as they have this past week.

Judges’ score: Raimondo 1; Taveras 0.

A family affair

In some countries, rabid fans would be considering burning down the house of US national team striker Chris Wondolowski, who missed an absolute sitter two yards in front of the goal against Belgium in the last minute of stoppage time in the World Cup group of 16 when the score was 0-0. It was a guaranteed game-winner. Instead, Belgium went on to win 2-1 in the 30 minutes of extra time, with the US attacking for an equalizer like madmen down the stretch.

Despite the game’s outcome, the US Team’s accomplishments at this World Cup are something to remember with pleasure. They upset all odds by advancing from the notorious “Group of Death” against Germany, Ghana, and Portugal, and into the final 16, while soccer glamour boys from Spain, Italy, and England were flying home. More importantly, they announced themselves as real “playahs” on the international scene — a team other national squads take lightly at their peril. And the last 15 minutes of extra time against Belgium showed that good old-fashioned Davy Crockett, no-quit-in-us, leave-your-hearts-on-the-field grit that brings a tear even to the eyes of an NFL-obsessed American macho man. Lots and lots to be proud of here. Thanks, boys.

Phillipe has suffered through the decades-long chant from US soccer aficionados — “Soccer is only five years away from being a major sport here!” The national team’s performance in Brazil has added a few decibels to that claim.

But the real major influence on the quality of US soccer lies at lower levels of the game: the kiddies and teenagers who continue to embrace the Beautiful Game. Players from other soccer-mad countries have played the game all their lives, and so have many of today’s American ’utes. But the difference is that foreign youngsters learned the game from a preceding generation that knew and played the game themselves. God bless the dedicated soccer moms and dads who devote time and energy to coaching kiddie soccer teams, but often these folks think the ball moves because there is a frog inside it. As interest in playing and watching soccer increases in the US over time, more and more of the folks who take time to teach our youth at early ages will have the previously-lacking soccer savvy.

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