Canada Soccer’s success story at the past three Olympic Games is a result of the federation’s continued investment in women’s soccer, highlighted this year with the program’s best-ever result at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Canada are just the third nation in the world to win three Olympic medals in women’s soccer (after USA and Germany) and one of only two nations in the world to win an Olympic medal in each of the last three Olympic Games (Brazil in men’s soccer and Canada in women’s soccer).
Achieving a best-ever result, or “changing the colour of the medal,” has been a Canada Soccer strategic initiative as outlined in the Canada Soccer Nation: 2019-2021 Strategic Plan. That plan set the organisation forward under the DEVELOP, GOVERN, GROW directive, featuring a series of programs and initiatives to move the game forward including alignment across its National Teams Program structure, investment in a National Soccer Registry, the launch of Canada Soccer’s National Youth Club Licensing Program, as well as the launch of the Canada Soccer Grassroots Coach Education Program online learning platform.
“Our Women’s National Team players were committed to changing the colour of the medal and they have achieved that with Canada Soccer’s best-ever performance at the Olympic Games,” said Dr. Nick Bontis, Canada Soccer President. “We are both proud of the success of our Women’s National Team and inspired by the legacy they continue to create for the next generation of Canadian stars.”
Canada’s continued investment and growth in the women’s game is also an important legacy from hosting the successful FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™. As part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ Legacy, Canada Soccer directly supported the development of professional opportunities for women’s soccer by co-founding the National Women’s Soccer Leagues along with Mexico and the United States, with already 40 Canadian players featured across the league’s first eight seasons from 2013 to 2020. Also part of the Canada 2015 Legacy to support Canada’s best youth players, Canada Soccer established the Regional EXCEL and Super EXCEL Centres from coast to coast across Canada, with already more than 500 youth players featured in the program since 2013.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ supported an economic impact of $493.6-million industry output and was watched by 750 million worldwide viewers, including 20.8 million in Canada. The 52-match finals drew a record 1.35-million spectators, now the highest attended FIFA event outside the men’s FIFA World Cup™. An important legacy of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 and FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ was the investment of more than $6-million in soccer infrastructure in Canada, with more than 21 FIFA Quality PRO pitches either built or upgraded.
Canada Soccer’s coordinated and centralised system has ensured the development of talented players winning medals at three consecutive Olympic Games, with now 41 different players winning medals in the last 10 years. From this year’s team, all 22 players have benefitted from either professional opportunities in the National Women’s Soccer League or program development through Canada Soccer’s Youth National Teams and Super EXCEL/Regional EXCEL Centres, the Canada Games, or former National Training Centres positioned across the country. Canada Soccer’s National Teams Program has also benefited from Own The Podium which has provided technical leadership and guidance in the pursuit of Olympic and Paralympic medals for Canada.
Canada’s most experienced player is captain Christine Sinclair who has made more than 300 international “A” appearances since 2000, the fourth most ever by a player at the international level. Sinclair is the world’s all-time international goalscoring leader. Canada’s two youngest players Jayde Riviere and Jordyn Huitema, born the year following Sinclair’s international debut, were both part of Canada’s recent fourth-place finish at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018.
As part of Canada Soccer’s Women Leading Women initiative, another legacy from the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, former Women’s National Team players have been given the opportunity to contribute to the sport both on and off the pitch. Among those players that won Olympic Bronze at London 2012, Brittany Timko Baxter is now a Canada Soccer Board Member, Robyn Gayle serves as Canada Soccer’s Mental and Cultural Manager (men’s and women’s programming), and chiropractor Dr. Melissa Tancredi works as part of the Women’s National Team support staff.
Additionally, Karina LeBlanc is Concacaf’s Head of Women’s Football while former Canada Soccer Staff Coaches Carmelina Moscato and Rhian Wilkinson continue to develop as coaches abroad (Moscato with FC Nordsjælland in Denmark; Wilkinson with England and Great Britain at the Olympic Games). Other London 2012 medalists who have since worked on Canada Soccer’s National Teams Program, Canada Soccer Committees, broadcast and media, or sport management include Melanie Booth, Marie-Eve Nault, Kaylyn Kyle, Diana Matheson, and Chelsea Stewart.
Bev Priestman, the only female Head Coach to lead a country to an Olympic medal at this year’s Olympic Football Tournament, was in fact one of the early architects of Canada Soccer’s EXCEL Program. Under her direction, Canada Soccer’s U-14 to U-20 players were given the tools and direction needed to make their next step on their Women’s National Team journey. At the Olympic Games in Japan, Priestman is surrounded by an exceptional staff that features 13 women, the most ever by a Canada Soccer team at a major international competition.
Marking the 35th anniversary of the Women’s National Team, Canada Soccer celebrates our early adoption and support of the women’s game and system-wide investment made as a federation in our Women’s National Team Program. Established in 1986, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team have played over 400 international “A” matches while the Women’s National Team Program has featured more than 900 players from the Youth National Teams to the National Team.
OLYMPIC MEDAL WINNERS & CONCACAF CHAMPIONS
Canada are two-time Olympic bronze medal winners (2012 and 2016) and two-time Concacaf champions (1998 and 2010). In all, Canada have participated in seven consecutive editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ (1995 to 2019) and four consecutive editions of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament (2008 to 2021). At Rio 2016, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team were the first Canadian Olympic team to win back-to-back medals at a summer Olympic Games in more than a century.
Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Youth Teams, meanwhile, have won four Concacaf youth titles: the 2004 and 2008 Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship, the 2010 Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship, and the 2014 Concacaf Girls’ Under-15 Championship. Canada have qualified for seven editions of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (including a silver medal at Canada 2002) and all six editions of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup (including a fourth-place finish at Uruguay 2018).
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