Tag Archives: CanWNT

CanWNT announces Four Nations Tournament roster

The Canadian Women’s National Team is kicking off the 2013 season with the Yongchuan Cup – Four Nations Women’s Tournament. Head coach John Herdman selected a 21-player travel roster, announced Friday afternoon. Players will travel to China on Sunday, January 6.

Similar to the December 2012 camp, Herdman is integrating a number of younger players into the senior team set-up in strategizing a possession-focused tactical shift. He told media, “We are trying to achieve a style of play and performance that the country can really enjoy and be proud of. We have identified some gaps in our performances and we need to begin exploring the changes that will allow us to close those gaps”.

More specifically, Herdman wants the team to “improve our width in attack; possession; ability to control a game”.

The roster is led by 12 players from last summer’s Olympic bronze medal winning team. Notably absent is forward Melissa Tancredi, who is focusing on completing chiropractic college in St. Louis, Missouri. Captain Christine Sinclair is training and traveling with the team, but not competing as she will be serving part of her four-game suspension.

Among the seven uncapped players are youngsters Kadeisha Buchanan, Ashley Lawrence and Nichelle Prince of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012 team; Adriana Leon, Christabel Oduro and Shelina Zadorsky, who represented Canada at the  FIFA U-20 WWC Japan 2012; and Tiffany Cameron from the FIFA U-17 WWC New Zealand 2008 team.

Herdman is adamant that style and personnel changes are a necessary means to an end of establishing the desired style of play of Canada, currently the FIFA ranked 7th best team in the world. “We need to take a step back from winning in the immediate. We need to focus on evolving our footy DNA”. Herdman believes that Canada has the talent to compete against the top teams in the world, but the numbers of such players need to grow.

Staged at the Yongchuan Olympic Centre from January 12-16, the round-robin Four Nations Tournament features hosts China, along with Canada, South Korea and Norway.

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Top Ten CanWNT Related Moments of 2012

2012 can be looked back upon as a marquee year for the Canadian Women’s National Team. What began with tempered expectations of the team’s potential success as a result of their ill fated 2011 Women’s World Cup exploded into media and fan frenzy as the nation was captured by their valiant Olympic semi-final battle with the United States. A bronze medal later, the team’s earned new found supporters, praises and accolades, and have made a steady stream of public appearances.

Let’s revisit some of the biggest moments of the past year.

#10: A bevy of post-Olympic appearances

Players have been busy since the summer making appearances at various events. Whether it’s for being interviewed or honoured, or signing autographs, or promoting products or the sport, we can agree that it’s nice seeing them getting more attention.

For instance, Karina LeBlanc has been making regular appearances on CityTV Vancouver’s Breakfast Television doing Bachelor Canada recaps. LeBlanc, Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt recently chatted with BT with a quick mention of a documentary that the team is filming. Sinclair currently has a television commercial for Tide Sport playing nationwide and is being featured in Nike promotional materials. Players have also been making appearances at Canadian Olympic Committee events, charity events and soccer clinics across the country.

And, thanks to social media, a number of boundlessly entertaining memes and multi-media came to fruition throughout 2012. On Twitter, there were popular hashtags like #NorwegianRef and #SinclairDay (not to forget Chuck Norris “facts” from the 2011 WWC); Diana Matheson finally opened a Twitter account (@dmatheson8) and graced the world with her banter and sense of humour. Via YouTube, more evidence of Sophie Moments (i.e. moments when Schmidt trips or does something silly) came to light. The bronze medal game itself produced a number of powerful images of hugs, pure bliss and medal glory.

#9: British Columbia loses two W-League teams

If there was a Canadian club team that you’d dub as having one of the biggest impacts on the CanWNT, it might just be the Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL W-League. However, on December 7, the Whitecaps announced that they wouldn’t field a team for the 2013 season, citing the formation of the new professional league in the US as a major factor behind the decision. It appears that the Whitecaps had interest in joining the new league, “but president Bob Lenarduzzi said the timing wasn’t right”.

Since their inaugural season in 2001, then known as the Vancouver Breakers, the Whitecaps women went to win two league titles (2004 and 2006) while fielding high caliber players and developing Canadian talent, including 14 of the 21 players on the 2012 Olympic squad.

To compound the loss, the Victoria Highlanders announced on December 20 that they too would be pulling out of the 2013 W-League season, although remaining in the lower tier Pacific Coast Soccer League. Founded in 2010, the Highlanders featured a number of local talent, such as Stephanie Parker, Lindsay Hoetzel, Shannon Elder, Nathalie Scharf among others from the University of Victoria Vikes.

With the demise of the western Canadian teams (and roster spots for young players), the remaining W-League clubs in the country are concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, including the Hamilton FC Rage, Laval Coments, London Gryphons, Ottawa Fury, Quebec City Amiral and Toronto Lady Lynx.

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Sinclair suspended 4 games & fined $3,500 by FIFA

More than two months after the notorious Olympic semi-final match between Canada and the United States, FIFA is issuing a 4 game suspension and $3,500 fine to Christine Sinclair.

The 29-year-old CanWNT captain was sanctioned by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for “displaying unsporting behaviour”. During post-match interviews for the 4-3 loss to the Americans, Sinclair questioned the refereeing of Norway’s Christiana Pedersen. Sinclair was quoted saying:

Obviously, we’re disappointed and upset. We felt that the referee took it away from us, so, yes, we are disappointed. We feel like we didn’t lose, we feel like it was taken from us. It’s a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started.

Canada had been leading the semi-final 3-2 thanks to a Sinclair hattrick. In the 78th minute, Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was whistled on an extremely rare 6-second rule. According to Pedersen, McLeod was taking longer than 6 seconds to release the ball upon this and previous goal kicks.

The resulting US free kick at the top of the box ricocheted off the arm of defender Marie-Eve Nault (some fans have argued that this instance was ball-to-arm, not arm-to-ball, i.e. unintentional). A penalty kick was subsequently awarded, which Abby Wambach buried to tie the match and force overtime.

A number of other questionable (non)calls were made during the match. Some fans would argue that Pedersen missed a PK for Canada when the ball struck the arm of US midfielder Megan Rapinoe in the second half. US goalkeeper Hope Solo, too, held the ball for more than 6-seconds on several occasions. Both squads were overtly physical, which should have warranted more cards being handed out to keep the match under control; Canada received the only 2 yellow cards issued. Canadian striker Melissa Tancredi appeared to have “stomped” on the head of Carli Lloyd, an allegation that Tancredi denies.

The US went on to win Olympic gold against Japan, while Canada took bronze over France.

The severity of Sinclair’s punishment is being compared relative to the 2-match ban of Colombia’s Lady Andrade, who punched Wambach in the face during an Olympic group match.

Sinclair is expected to address media on Monday regarding the suspension and fine.

Based on the FIFA Disciplinary Code tweeted by Jason deVos, since Canada is hosting the next Women’s World Cup and are not required to play in qualifying, Sinclair will serve the suspension during any upcoming friendlies.

As announced by the Canadian Soccer Association, “No further information will be available from the Canadian Soccer Association or media interviews granted on this decision until such time as those reasons for judgement are received and reviewed by the Canadian Soccer Association.”

In other news, the CanWNT are nominated for Yahoo! Canada’s The Big Buzz Awards for Big Buzz Story of the Year and Sinclair for Buzziest Canadian. Click here to vote. Also, the team will return to camp in December in Vancouver.

[Oct 15 update: The Canadian Soccer Association will pay for Sinclair’s $3,500 fine. She’ll serve her suspension when Canada competes at China’s Four Nation’s Tournament in January. However, if Canada makes an early exit from the tournament, then it’ll spill into the Cyprus Cup in March.

The punishment handed down by FIFA wasn’t for Sinclair’s post-match comments to media, but for comments she allegedly made directly to Pedersen immediately following the match. During Monday’s conference call, Sinclair said, “I’d like to acknowledge FIFA’s decision and it is my intent to accept it… As a player, you just want to move on as well as I want my team to move on.”]

Interview with Kara Lang: Being inspired by Street Soccer Canada


Canada's 2011 Women's Homeless World Cup Team. This image is courtesy of Paul Gregory and Street Soccer Canada.

I spoke to Kara Lang in April about Street Soccer Canada for a project outside of AllWhiteKit and RedNationOnline. Upon the eve of the 10th Annual Homeless World Cup in Mexico City October 6-14, it’s a perfect time to revisit her insight on the women’s program in Toronto. Here’s a condensed version of the conversation.

Since September 2011, weekly indoor soccer matches in a western Toronto recreation centre have become a solace for women living in the local shelter system. They are some of the most marginalized individuals in the city, battling poverty, mental health concerns, various forms of addictions and abuse, and/or other socioeconomic effects. In spite of their circumstances, they’ve developed a familial bond with fellow players brought together by Street Soccer Canada (SSC), “a grassroots program with sport as social inclusion as its focus. Its aim is to engage and connect with marginalized shelter users and individuals that have been isolated and are on the fringes, using the positive power of sport to enrich and empower.”

Paul Gregory, who founded SSC in 2003, meshed his interest in soccer with his 16 years of experience in the public and non-profit sectors tackling issues of homelessness and poverty. What started with a men’s team that later represented Canada at the 2004 Homeless World Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden now has programs in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, in addition to women’s teams in the latter two cities.

Among the coaches in Toronto is Kara Lang, a nine year veteran of the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team, who is also the SSC technical director. Following a successful national team career that includes representing her country at the 2003 and 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cups and 2008 Beijing Olympics, Kara is currently a soccer analyst at Rogers Media Inc. and passionately volunteers her time with SSC.

Melissa Tan: How are the sessions going?
Kara Lang: It’s a little bit tough because we have to depend on the holiday schedule of the community centre. For the most part, other than Christmas, New Years and Easter, we’ve been every Mondays since September [2011]. We’ll run a session whether it’s one person that shows up or eight or whatever.

MT: Do you usually start off with drills and then head into a recreational game?
KL: Mhmm, it’s always a bit of a warmup. A lot of the women aren’t physically active at all throughout the week, or some of them had never been physically active before, certainly not any part of an organized team. We’re trying to get them into certain habits of being healthy and safe. They get warmed up, then some drills, some first touch. We work on whatever they want to work on.

A lot of the time it’s finishing that they like to do; they like to shoot. We usually put Billy in net, he’s the men’s team coach; they love shooting on Billy. He’s quite the trash talker, too, so it makes for a lot of fun.

Then we divide up the teams depending on numbers and we just play a scrimmage for an hour, hour and a half. We always have to be cautious to take breaks because everyone’s at different fitness levels and some of the women’s health isn’t the best. When one person needs a break, everyone needs a break. We’re trying to instill that idea of team, which is also new for a lot of the women. It’s basically two hours of fun, two hours of freedom.

MT: It’s like there are two parts to the equation: trying to instill healthy habits in their daily lives and also building trust because it’s difficult to break down their personal barriers.
KL: Absolutely, there’s a huge difference between the first few sessions and now where the women are totally comfortable with us and talking about their outside lives and sharing their stories with us. And, accepting advice from us even about soccer.

In terms of healthy habits outside, for some of them it’s not just that one day a week anymore. It was only a few weeks ago when some of them were asking to take some soccer balls home to go to the park and train on their own. They want to get better, especially with those who haven’t played before; it’s that learning curve that they’ve seen and how quickly they’ve started to get the hang of it. Then they just wanted more and wanted to get better. They’re goal setting and recognizing that they’re good at something that can be fun. I think for a lot of them, it’s extremely encouraging.

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2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Host Cities

The Hon. Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport) and Joseph Blatter, FIFA President

The Hon. Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport) and Joseph Blatter, FIFA President. Photo by the Canadian Soccer Association

The six 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada official host cities were announced May 4th, including Edmonton, AB (Commonwealth Stadium); Moncton, NB (Stade Moncton 2010); Montreal, QC (Saputo Stadium); Ottawa, ON (Frank Clair Stadium); Vancouver, BC (BC Place) and Winnipeg, MB (Investors Group Field).

The inaugural WWC in China 1991 featured 12 teams. After expanding to 16 teams and 32 matches for USA 1999, Canada will be first to host 24 teams in a 52 match schedule.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter spoke at the press conference in Parliament Hill and boasted that the 2015 WWC will be the “biggest international event for Canada, even [compared] to the Olympics.”

Seven cities were included in the initial bid process, but Halifax opted out in March due to funding issues related to building a new stadium. Three years prior, the City of Halifax announced a $100,000 feasibility study of the proposed project.

Toronto, on the other hand, will not host due to 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games commitments, which were awarded to the city in 2009, two years prior to the WWC bid submission. The PanAms will run from July 10-26, which overlaps with the WWC’s expected mid-June to mid-July schedule. Local stakeholders, such as Tourism Toronto, elected not to submit a WWC bid.

The press conference was hosted by former Canadian Women’s National Team member Kara Lang, and Canadian Soccer Association Long-Term Player Development Manager and former WNT coach Sylvie Béliveau. They spoke about the impact of hosting a WWC on boy’s and girls’ youth soccer.

FIFA reports that 29 million women and girls around the world play soccer, including 350,000 in Canada.

“It’s beneficial for [soccer] in Canada to spread the game from coast-to-coast, the first time that it’s ever happened,” said Jason de Vos from TSN studios in Toronto. “If you spread [the matches] from coast to coast, you give young players from around the country an opportunity to see live international football, the best players in the women’s game on Canadian soil.”

In 2011, TSN became the official Canadian broadcaster of FIFA soccer (rights from 2015 to 2022). Broadcasting rights were held in previous years by CBC.

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