Youth trio makes Olympic debut with Canada

Much of Canada’s lineup at the 2008 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament comes from the celebrated Class of 2002. Christine Sinclair, Erin McLeod, Clare Rustad, Candace Chapman, Kara Lang, Robyn Gayle, Brittany Timko – they were all silver medalists at the inaugural FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2002. The group has grown up together and is at the core of Canada’s 2008 Olympic dreams.



Mixed in with the established group, however, are three U-20 players on the rise in Canada’s ranks. Sophie Schmidt, Jodi-Ann Robinson and Jonelle Filigno were all born 1988 or later and are all eligible for this year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Chile 2008. They were also all three gold medalists at the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico.

Much of Canada’s lineup at the 2008 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament comes from the celebrated Class of 2002. Christine Sinclair, Erin McLeod, Clare Rustad, Candace Chapman, Kara Lang, Robyn Gayle, Brittany Timko – they were all silver medalists at the inaugural FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2002. The group has grown up together and is at the core of Canada’s 2008 Olympic dreams.



Mixed in with the established group, however, are three U-20 players on the rise in Canada’s ranks. Sophie Schmidt, Jodi-Ann Robinson and Jonelle Filigno were all born 1988 or later and are all eligible for this year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Chile 2008. They were also all three gold medalists at the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico.



Schmidt has the most experience of the three youngsters at the international level. Less than six weeks after her 20th birthday, she won her 40th cap with the full national team, doing so in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament opener on 6 August. She is a regular starter, sharing the central midfield duties with Diana Matheson. She is also the reigning Canadian U-20 Player of the Year.



Robinson is a year younger, but like Schmidt has experience at the FIFA Women’s World Cup (China 2007) and is a past Canadian U-20 Player of the Year (2006). The Canadian striker won her 31st cap with the full national team on 6 August, coming in as a substitute for the injured Melissa Tancredi. Robinson has made 13 appearances as a sub in 2008, second most on the team behind the veteran Timko. Robinson is also fourth on the team with four goals.



Filigno, at last, is the newest teenager in the group. Filigno wasn’t even part of the national squad in 2007, only making her Canadian debut on 16 January 2008 in Guangzhou at the Four Nations Tournament. Since January, however, she has played in 18 of Canada’s 21 games, including an appearance as a substitute on 6 August (she replaced Robinson late in the game). Coach Even Pellerud has failed to use Filigno only once since her January debut (Filigno was unavailable for two games when she played in Puebla with the U-20s). Born in 1990, she will in fact still be eligible for the next FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2010.



While all three are still eligible for youth duties, all three are well cemented in coach Pellerud’s senior lineup. More importantly, all three are playing important roles in Canada’s run at the 2008 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament.

Guidelines for the Return to Soccer

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