Historic Olympic bronze just the beginning for Canadian women's soccer
Call it poetic justice or call it lady luck, the Canadian women’s national team captured the heart of a nation with their bronze medal win at the 2012 London Olympic Games on Thursday morning.
The image of Diana Matheson kissing the Canadian crest on her jersey after scoring a last-second winner will not soon be forgotten - neither will Christine Sinclair’s incredible display of skill, heart, and sheer dominance throughout the tournament.
This is Canada’s first trip to the podium in a traditional team sport at the Summer Games since 1936, and their first-ever Olympic medal in women’s soccer.
The Canadian players took to Twitter following their historic victory to thank the country for their support, but in reality, we should be thanking them for inspiring a generation, according to Whitecaps FC chief operating officer Rachel Lewis.
“The Olympics are an amazing sporting event and the viewership is just astronomical,” Lewis told whitecapsfc.com. “It’s really inspirational for young people watching our athletes compete and win medals.”
With bronze medals around their necks, Canada’s Olympic journey may now be over, but their story is still being written.
The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is less than three years away, and after their Olympic performance, it seems fitting that Canada will be the host nation.
On home soil, Canadians tend to rise to the occasion and take their game to a new level. If recent events like the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver are any indication, then we should expect nothing less in 2015.
“I think we have a tremendous opportunity to show the world that Canada belongs on the world stage,” Lewis said. “I think this demonstrates that we’re back, we’re here to stay, and what a great window as we head into the 2015 for the Women’s World Cup here at home.”
As one of the tournament’s six host cities, Vancouver will be front and centre again in 2015, and it will be well deserved.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC women’s program has produced some of the best players Canada has ever seen and has worked closely with the Canadian women’s national team program for many years.
Take Burnaby’s own Christine Sinclair, for example, who won a United Soccer Leagues W-League title with the ‘Caps in 2006. She is one of 14 Canadian Olympic heroes who also played for the Blue and White at some point during their careers.
But it does not stop there.
Three products of Whitecaps FC Prospects program, who have each graduated to the club’s W-League team, were named to the Canadian U-20 women’s squad that will travel to Japan for this summer’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup - a tournament that will be hosted by Canada in 2014.
And four players from the Whitecaps FC U-18 Girls Elite squad helped the Canadian U-17 women’s national team qualify for the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which begins next month in Azerbaijan.
“I think that’s a real testament to the investment we’re making in growing the sport,” Lewis said. “We’re developing young talent and showing young girls that there’s a pathway to play for your country and represent Canada. I think the culmination of a bronze medal today is a great testament to that.”
With an Olympic bronze medal in hand, the goal will no doubt be a Women’s World Cup title in 2015. And with unfinished business on their mind, who is to say they will not get there?
After a crushing semifinal defeat to arch-rivals United States, many said Canada would have nothing left. They said bronze didn’t matter.
They were wrong.