VANCOUVER, B.C – The Canadian women’s national team wrapped up nine-day training camp this week after a four month break that came after winning a bronze medal at the London Olympics in August. The team scrimmaged, did fitness testing and worked on new tactics which they weren’t willing to reveal to the media.
Many of the players who talked to the media are extremely excited about possibly playing in the National Women’s Soccer League which is making it’s debut in the spring 2013. The players that arrived in Vancouver for the grueling boot camp are hoping that coach John Herdman selects them as one of the 16 Canadian players that will take up one of two spots on each of the 8 teams in the NWSL. Herdman has some tough decisions facing him and he’s hoping the United States Soccer Federation might extend his deadline so he can take a few extra days to make his big decisions. Herdman said this, when asked about when he might finally decide which 16 Canadian players earn a coveted spot in the NWSL:
“We’ve got to put a roster in there by the December 21st with 16 players. There’s twenty-one of them that came back from the Olympics games with a bronze medal around their necks so it’s pretty hard to look beyond that group but we’ve also got to plan for the future. What’s got to be clear is 16 players will get a contract for a year this year, and they might not be the 16 that have got that contract in a year’s time, so they’ll be some transitional contracts and people are really going to have to hang on to them.”
Melissa Tancredi is one player that you won’t see playing in the NWSL in 2013. Tancredi, is going back to school and with several of her teammates also in school, Herdman will have to take that into consideration when making his 16 selections.
“That’s one of the challenges, the players that have to go back to school they might have to hold off on a contract for this year and may pick one up next year. “It’s not black and white at the minute, there’s a lot of complexity. Some of our good players are in the NCAA and their not going to give up their scholarships to go pro yet.”
Kaylyn Kyle is one player who is hoping to receive an NWSL roster spot.
“I’m so pumped about it! It’s super exciting,” Kyle said. “Obviously there’s only 16 of us that are going to be able to play in it so I’m just working really hard and hopefully getting one of those 16 contracts. It will be nice just to stay in North America and be able to be close to friends and family.”
Kyle has previously spent time playing in Pitea, Sweden but much of her early playing career was spent with the Vancouver Whitecaps. If she somehow does not end up in the NWSL she may have to look at playing overseas.
“If I don’t end up in the new league… obviously I want to play somewhere so obviously I would probably go overseas seeing as there is no more Vancouver Whitecaps team here anymore,” Kyle said. “There’s endless possibilities to play but I’d really really like to stay in North America.”
Emily Zurrer is also looking forward to possibly playing in the NWSL.
“I’m so excited! Ideally we would like to play in Canada and we would like to have teams in Canada but I think the next best thing is the CSA being on board with U.S. Soccer and the new league,” she said. “Hopefully in the future there will be Canadian teams that will be able to enter the league. I think we’re all really excited to play in North America.”
Despite the slow progress and delayed announcements from the NWSL, Zurrer is confident this new league will have a brighter and longer future than the previously failed WUSA and WPS.
“I think the fact that there are three federations involved this time is huge moving forward,” she said. “It’s not just all on the U.S. Soccer, it’s the CSA, the Mexican Federation and U.S. Soccer. I think that’s going to be huge and I hope they’ve learned from the two previous times and have kind of tweaked all the things that went wrong. I think they’re going to try and keep it at a minimum financially so hopefully it works.”
The buzz and excitement from the player over potentially playing in the NWSL is palpable. Herdman has tough decisions to make in deciding his 16 players to fund. Once they are selected, the pressure will shift to the eight teams and three federations involved.
Notes: Canada will face Norway, South Korea, and China in the Four Nations Cup, which runs from Jan. 10 – 15 in China. Despite being suspended by FIFA Christine Sinclair will travel to China to support her team during the competition.