In the middle of the sprawling suburb of Melbourne lies a rectangular soccer field called Olympic Park. It was built for his 1956 Olympics and is also where the Canadian team holds training sessions ahead of his FIFA World Cup opener.
Some of the training staff were the first to arrive on the pitch. While they set up their equipment and plan their training, they blast pop music through a hidden sound system.
Next is 37 years old Bev PriestmanHead coach of the women’s national football team since October 2020
“We try to keep things fresh here,” Pristman said. “We enjoy this and are very focused on the process as well.”
Once Priestman has calmed down, the players head out onto the field, looking comfortable and confident.
“I don’t know if the whole world sees us where they should be seen, but that’s what drives the team, so that’s fine.”
Canada’s head coach, Bev Priestman, is leading one of the women’s final training sessions before facing Nigeria in the opening game. (Melanie Nagy/CTV News)
There are a total of 23 female players representing Canada on the FIFA world stage.The roster is mixed with veterans like the captain Christine Sinclairand young soccer players such as 18 years old Olivia Smith.
“What we know from the Olympics is play one game, grow from there and keep getting better and better,” Priestman said.
The team won the gold medal for Canada at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but is ranked seventh in the world heading into the Games.
“We’re really excited to be in the game and ready for the tournament to begin,” starting goaltender Kyren Sheridan said.
Sheridan, who grew up in Whitby, Ontario, said the team has high expectations. She also said the team is fully aware of the tough competition.
It will be the first time that 32 teams will participate in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the number of participating players has increased significantly since the last tournament held in France in 2019.
“We want to see the sport grow, we want to see it competitive,” Sheridan said during practice. “We also want to go all the way as a team.”
Starting goalkeeper Kylen Sheridan, who grew up in Whitby, Ontario, spoke to the media after practice in Melbourne. (Melanie Nagy/CTV News)
The women are reigning Olympic champions, but have yet to win the World Cup. Their previous best finish was in 2003, when they finished 4th out of 16 teams.
“We have always underperformed in the World Cup, but we know what our capabilities and goals are,” said the midfielder. Sophie Schmidt.
When the tournament begins, Canada will be the first to meet in Group B, which includes Australia, Ireland and Nigeria.
“I think the team is doing a great job at the moment,” Schmidt said, adding, “We also need to get the job done from day one to set us up for success.”
Midfielder Sophie Schmidt takes a break from training to discuss the team’s expectations ahead of the World Cup opener. (Melanie Nagy/CTV News)