When the Canadians won gold at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2021, they did so in a health bubble, away from family and friends.
Although the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand will take place under more normal conditions and some loved ones will be able to make the trip, weeks away from home can come at a price.
The coach, Bev Priestman, has planned in this direction.
“It’s one of my learnings acquired in England, with the Lionesses,” she said. I think we did a good job with our approach. »
Priestman and his deputies divided the Canadian team’s time in Australia into three work blocks.
“Knowing that we may be gone for 52 days and that the 52nd day (the final) will be the most important, how can we ensure that the players are mentally and physically rested? […] We made sure that they felt at home, while being far from it. »
Canada, who are ranked seventh in the world, arrived in Australia at the end of June for a preseason tournament in Gold Coast, southeast of Brisbane. This early arrival helped maximize preparation on the pitch, build team chemistry and counter the effects of jet lag.
The Canadians will kick off their tournament on July 20, against Nigeria (world No. 40) in Melbourne, before heading to Perth, where they will face the Irish (No. 22 in the world), on July 26. They will return to Melbourne for their final Group B match on July 31 against No. 10 Australia.
The tournament will be played until August 20 in nine cities in Australia and New Zealand. The draw ensured that Canada will remain in Australia, however.
“Bev does a great job of creating an environment where we have time to get outside the team…and bond off the field,” noted Canadian goaltender Kailen Sheridan. I think it’s important to develop this friendship outside or to have the possibility of having time for yourself. I sometimes need time for myself, in order to recharge my batteries and come back to the best of my abilities. »
Tournaments like the World Cup come with a considerable amount of stress. Christine Sinclair, at her sixth World Cup, knows something about it.
“Right now, I just want to enjoy it,” she said. I am a perfectionist and I put so much pressure on my shoulders that my goal is to enjoy this World Cup. My family will be there. They already have an idea of what the experience will be like after the 2015 Worlds (in Canada), but this is the first time they have traveled to see me play. I just want to create unforgettable memories. »
The Priestman family will also be on hand.
“It will be wonderful to have them around,” Priestman said. Of course, she couldn’t be in Tokyo. It will be good to count on her after a very difficult year. »
Canada beat the Australians twice last September, in Brisbane and Sydney, but the national team had a tough year overall. Sinclair sees this World Cup as a new start for the team.
“It was difficult with the negotiations (for a new collective agreement) and the SheBelieves Cup,” she said of the American tournament last February, where the Canadians threatened not to play because of the dispute. with the national federation.
“We used those first few weeks in Australia for a reset. We are starting a new chapter and it has been interesting to see the team rebuilding, on and off the pitch […] to rebuild this feeling of family for which we are known. »