SportsThousands come out to support Canadian women’s soccer in Ottawa

Thousands come out to support Canadian women’s soccer in Ottawa

Thousands come out to support Canadian women’s soccer in Ottawa

Photos courtesy of Canada Soccer by Steve Kingsman


The Canadian women’s national team visited Ottawa this past week for a friendly match with Brazil on Sunday afternoon. The women’s national team is preparing for the upcoming 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship (October 4-17, 2018) which will serve as a qualifier for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France next summer. The top three teams are awarded automatic qualification, while the fourth-placed team will have to take part in a play-off with the third-placed team from CONEMBOL (South America).

On Sunday, Ottawa soccer fans were treated to world-class soccer at TD Place in a rematch of the 2016 Summer Olympics Bronze medal match which Canada won 2-1 over Brazil. The match was well attended (16,128) match despite the rain and the fans were able to celebrate a 1-0 Canadian victory in the end.

The women’s team has always been the more established out of Canada’s two national soccer teams and they showed us why on Sunday with an impressive win over a top-tier opponent.

An encouraging win on the road to France 2019

The players came from all over the world from their respective club teams—Christine Sinclair from Portland Thorn FC, Kadeisha Buchanan from Lyon Féminin and Janine Beckie from Manchester City W.F.C., just to name a few—to represent Canada on Sunday in Ottawa.

Head Coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller is determined to create a winning team that also entertains, and the match on Sunday was an important building block towards Heiner-Møller’s end goal. The match was contested by two technically and tactically gifted teams, which made for a tight contest throughout.

Canada’s goal came from a free-kick in the 48th minute that was knocked down by Buchanan and then put away into the back of the net by Nichelle Prince. Despite the positive performance and result, Heiner-Møller recognizes that there is work still to be done.

“We wanted to score a goal and win as well, so we are very pleased,” said Canada’s German head coach after the match.

“In the previous matches, it was about how we close the spaces down when [our opponents] are on the ball. And then, using the ball when [in possession]. But on the ball, we’re still building.”

In a new period of Canadian women’s soccer, emerging young talents look to push for a place in the Canada squad for the CONCACAF Women’s Championship.

“My job is not getting any easier. The [young players] you saw on the pitch, they definitely pushed the more experienced players,” said Heiner-Møller.

“We got some very fast and skillful players on the ball that don’t give the ball away, who can both attack and defend.

“They lack some experience and sometimes that is what you need.

“It’s very exciting for Canadian soccer.”

Canada will have an additional close-doors friendly scheduled with Brazil in a few days where Heiner-Møller will definitely field a more experimental lineup.

Then, the Canadian players will return to their respective club teams until the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in October.

Canadian women’s soccer continues to thrive

After the final whistle, the entire Canadian team joined hands and thanked the fans in the stadium for their support during the 90 minutes, which was reciprocated by a warm standing ovation from the crowd.

The health of the women’s game in Canada is strong, especially compared to the men’s game. The women’s national team has experienced relative success placing fourth at the 2003 World Cup, earning a Bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics and successfully hosting the World Cup in 2015, despite only reaching the quarter-finals.

The women’s team engenders a positive spirit that makes people want to support them, evidence from the attendance numbers from their recent friendlies—22,826 attended their previous friendly in June against Germany in Hamilton.

With the Canadian Premier League under development and projects like the one at Ottawa Fury FC promoting Canadian talent, the men’s game should look to the women’s game as an example to follow as it seeks legitimacy at the international level. Yes, the men’s game is much more competitive, but the men’s national team has sputtered over the years because of poor management and a lack of professionalism, which has resulted in talented Canadian-eligible players opting to play for other national teams.

With Canada co-hosting the 2026 World Cup, the nation has a great opportunity to make big strides in the men’s game. Canada will be looking to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but still primarily focus on the tournament on home soil. If Canada Soccer wants to have a competitive and inspiring team that the Canadian public can get behind for 2026, like the women’s team in 2015, it will be important for the program under John Herdman to show a determination to nurture talent and better market its marquee players in the preceding years.

The Brazilian head coach Vadão through a translator said after the match that he was inspired by Canada’s support for its women’s national soccer team and that it wasn’t the same in Brazil. The success of the women’s national team is nothing to sniff at and the showing on Sunday from all involved—players, staff members and fans—shows why the women’s national team continues to deserve celebration and support.

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