My 2012 (Mostly) CanWNT Wish List

1) More good memories from London 2012 and beyond

The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup provided a slew of memorable moments. For Canadians, the highlight was probably watching Christine Sinclair break her nose, refuse medical attention, then continue to play and score a stunning free kick goal [watch here] to snap Germany’s 622-minute WWC shutout streak that stood since the 2003 edition of the tournament. (The clip even made it on to “The most indelible televised sports images of 2011” list).

Somehow, the 2-1 loss to Germany felt like a glorious victory. In the four days that followed the opening match and preceded Canada’s second game against France, the Internet was set abuzz with fans expressing unprecedented belief in and support for the team. Canada stood their ground for a close match against the all mighty Germans so, in our eyes, anything from hereon in was possible. That, coupled with Canada’s winning ways in the lead up to the tournament, made the team seem like a worthy contender for the coveted trophy.

The hashtag #ChristineSinclair began trending on Twitter, even when it wasn’t game day, and Chuck Norris had to step aside as Sinclair took the spotlight with her Zorro mask. What’s not to love when it comes to:

  • If #ChristineSinclair passed you the ball, you would put it on your resume (@Gregair13)
  • #Christine Sinclair can’t go within 500 meters of a pool. She hates diving that much (@cdnsoccerblog)
  • The Oxford English Dictionary is changing the spelling of the word “legendary” to S-I-N-C-L-A-I-R (@page1of1)
  • Christine Sinclair can punch a Cyclops between the eyes (@Kim_Notorious)

As fans blissfully rallied around the team, national news outlets like The Globe and Mail pumped us up with headlines that read, “Christine Sinclair enters pantheon of Canadian sporting icons,” while the soccer section of their website featured not one, not two, but seven items at once related to Sinclair and the CanWNT.

Needless to say, things eventually fell apart… badly.

However brief that sense of utter perfection may have been, those precious four days gave fans everything they could possibly want when it came to media coverage and a sense of national pride and renewed confidence in our team. As national team fans, we can savour the glory that surrounded events like the 2002 FIFA U-19 WWC and that brief moment from Germany 2011 and hope to create new hype, new belief and a new generation of fans with London 2012 and into the future with Canada’s 2014 U-20 WWC, 2015 WWC and Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.

Who doesn’t want to experience this kind of atmosphere at a Canadian soccer match again and again? Canada vs. Brazil FIFA U-19 Edmonton and USA vs. Canada FIFA U-19 Championship Stadium Entry and National Anthems (Thanks for the links, Jenna!)

2) The return of Josée Bélanger

The 25 year-old striker from Coaticook, Quebec was called up to the National Team by former coach Carolina Morace following a six year hiatus from the team and she made an instant impact. In her mere 11 appearances, Bélanger has scored 5 goals (some of which can be seen here and here) and I’m sure she’s provided a few assists as well… if only someone kept those stats *grumble*.

Whether as a starter or a second half spark, it seemed that Bélanger had punched her ticket to Germany this summer. She’s fast, exciting to watch and constantly active on the pitch to pounce on loose balls when defenders are occupied with other Canadian strikers. But an ankle injury in the spring ruled out Bélanger for the WWC and we have yet to see her in camp under John Herdman (most likely due to school commitments for the fifth-year kinesiology student).

Bélanger established her presence on the team back when Morace played a 4-3-3. With Herdman’s 4-4-2, the recovery of Jonelle Filigno and the emergence of Chelsea Buckland as an up-and-coming striker, it puts some doubts into how Bélanger will fit into the team. Herdman, however, has stated that the Olympic Qualifying roster was “a short-term decision”, so the possibility for Bélanger’s return in time for the Olympics is still open.

Besides, she’s got her own commercial for Universite de Sherbrooke. That deserves some cool points, no?

3) Clare Rustad to commentate everything

For those who watched CBC’s broadcast of the WWC, Clare Rustad was excellent on the panel. I must admit that I normally avoid watching pre-, half-time and post-game shows and the like, regardless of the sport or event, since new and nervous commentators are often a source of second-hand embarrassment. But the former CanWNT defender/midfielder was poised, articulate and insightful with a good mix of sarcasm (Re: Japan’s free kick, “A few New Zealand players in the wall didn’t jump… At this point, it’s not like the ball’s going underneath”). Rustad’s like a more sophisticated Emma Stone.

4) To have the work ethic of Chris Henderson and to write about soccer as eloquently as Jenna Pel

It’s self explanatory.

5) To watch Olympic Qualifying on a gigantic, kick ass TV

While seemingly every other person on my Twitter feed will be in Vancouver attending the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers, I’m staying put due to school and work commitments. But, hey, if someone was generous enough to offer me a few bucks to make the trip I wouldn’t turn down the offer ;).

On the up side of things, my new 60 inch LED TV is scheduled to be delivered in early January… woe is me. Fingers crossed that it arrives on time and whatever HD cable box/technology/whatchamacallit that’s needed is installed and ready to go in time for the tournament. Plus, I’m praying that nothing important happens on my Thursday night class or else I’d have to miss the opening games. (I clearly have my priorities straight). Most importantly, it’ll be a rare opportunity to actually watch women’s soccer on television (in Canada, Olympic Qualifying will be broadcasted on Rogers Sportsnet, by the way) and I’m sure everyone can relate to the feeling of not having to scour the Internet for a blurry, semi-legal feed to watch a match, only for the channel to change during crucial moments.

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