Because this is a Women’s World Cup year, I have decided to countdown to the tournament by providing a short soccer/fitness related preview of each of the 24 participating nations. In this instalment, I will look at Thailand, who is making their first ever appearance at the Women’s World Cup. Thailand have been drawn in Group B, along with Germany, Cote D’Ivoire, and Norway. They will play their first match against Norway on Sunday, June 7th, 2015.
As newcomers to the Women’s World Cup, Thailand will be taking a huge step up in competition, with two former World Champions in Germany and Norway in their group. Although this may seem daunting, one factor that could work in Thailand’s favour is their acclimatization to warmer weather as opposed to their eastern European opponents. In Thailand, average temperatures during the soccer season can reach as high as 35-40 degrees Celsius. In contrast, both Norway and Germany’s professional leagues run through the winter, in which temperatures can be much colder (especially in Norway, where games are frequently played in snow and/or below zero temperatures). While the weather forecast for Ottawa (the venue for Thailand’s game versus Norway) and Winnipeg (for their match versus Germany) will not likely be higher than 25-30 degrees Celsius, the Thai team, who has been accustomed to playing in much higher temperatures, may have a slight advantage, especially if they are able to keep the scorelines close as the matches progress.
Studies examining playing soccer in temperatures higher than 25 degrees Celsius have suggested that several performance indicators, including speed, power, endurance, motor processing times, and cognitive functions, can be impaired. Furthermore, athletes who are not accustomed to exercising in high temperatures have a greater likelihood of experiencing these decreases in performance than those who are accustomed. For Thailand, the relatively high temperatures in Ottawa and Winnipeg will certainly not be an issue. Can they use this to their advantage during the tournament? We will have to wait and see what happens in 1 month’s time.
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