As the Canadian national soccer team sets its sights on Tokyo 2021, the SheBelieves Cup will be a true test to see how well the team can play together with fresh faces and a new coaching staff.
There’s also the fact that the team hasn’t played a game together since last March. But nobody should be too worried about a team that carries legends like Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott, Diana Matheson and Christine Sinclair.
With only five days away from the 2021 SheBelieves Cup, Sophie Schmidt has played in four FIFA Women’s World Cups, three appearances at the Olympics is set for her fourth for Tokyo 2021.
“This is a very important camp for us,” she said. “We are kicking off the New Year. It has been about a year since we’ve last seen each other, so it’s pivotal for us to get going on a good foot. It’s an Olympic year; so the preparation is short and we need to be making the most of the time we have together.”
Training camp is only a week in, and with new coach Bev Priestman, implementing new strategies with a core group of national players and a handful of new players experiencing the national team for the first time, there is a lot to get accustomed to.
Both Schmidt and Scott noted that with the short training camp, there are a few growing pains and players shaking off rust. As both veterans and new players merge together with their new coach, the team is focusing on rebuilding and forming bonds on and off the field.
Scott’s NWSL season with the Utah Royals ended abruptly last season when she left the Challenge Cup due to family obligations. Scott herself is a two-time Olympic bronze medalist and is eager to return to the field after a short pro season.
“I was a bit nervous coming into camp to see where I’m at…but I’ve been good so far; I’m still standing!” the 32-year old said. “I think just allowing the fact that I’ve missed so much to really fuel me to get through this camp and take every day and moment as it comes.”
Going from training at home to training camp was an emotional transition for Scott as she was happy to be surrounded by her teammates again and being able to be the team environment.
With an important match against the United States as their first game, Scott feels they are “looking forward to using that as a measuring stick to gauge where we’re at after not being together after a year, but also looking at it as an opportunity to shine.”