Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Canada must embrace the Women's national team

This is the second time in little over a week that I'm writing something about the Canadian women's national team which is probably a record for me, but it also outlines that lack of coverage about the team in Canada.

Did you know you know that Canada's national women's team just became the Continental champions by winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup? Did you also know what win got them automatic qualification to the Women's World Cup in 2011?

I wouldn't fault you if you didn't, most of this country didn't have a clue either. The Canadian sports scene wasn't that keen on reporting the weeks events in Mexico, but if you did you saw a team that got better in each game they played. After Canada narrowly beat Trinidad and Tobago 1-0, the team seemed to pick their game up winning the rest of their group games by 8-0 and 3-0 over eventual finalist Mexico. Over the span of the tournament the team showed not only excellent footballing skill by keeping it on the ground and at times playing nice one touch passes to get attacks going. They also had the strongest defence not allowing a goal though out the whole tournament.

Aside from the fantastic Christine Sinclair who once again proved again why she is one the most complete footballers in the world, head coach Carolina Morace has to get the majority of the plaudits. There hasn't been a major turnover in terms of the core players on the team, yet in just under two years she has transformed the way the squad plays it football. When watching the team play during the tournament you could see the technical skills of the players have greatly improved from the Evan Pellerud days of long ball lump ins to Sinclair. There is a lot of thought in terms of passing, link up play and wing play. This team is defiantly more fun to watch then in a past, unlike the Pellerud era you can see a progressive line of improvement and where the team is going in regards to their style of play.

So why is this team not getting any love from Canadian sports fan? It not just that it's women's soccer or that absolutely no coverage is being done on the team. The issue now seems to be that the team has qualified from the Wold Cup before. In fact this will be their 5th straight appearance, however they have had disappointing runs in all 5 of those tournaments and now people want to see success. For us soccer fans who have followed what this team has done over the past 7-10 years, we want to see a deep run into the knock out stages of the tournament.

There are only about 10-15 countries that can field a decently competitive team in the women's game and Canada is one of them. It should now be an expectation that the squad at least make the quarter finals maybe even the semis. Success will be the way this team gets taken seriously both in the media and in the minds of Canadians. However this should not be the only reason we embrace this team, what we are seeing is the building of a strong national women's program that soon will be able to challenge the mighty United States. Although the States only finished 3rd in the Gold Cup tournament and have to play Italy in a playoff to get into the tournament, make no mistake they will still be favorites to beat Italy and win the World Cup. However expect the gap between Canada and the U.S to close in the next few years.

2011 promises to be a big year for the Big Red, lets hope that they get some love from home this summer when they take on the world.


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