This coming Thursday, Jayde Riviere will don the senior Canadian national team jersey for the first time as one of three Whitecaps FC teens called up to the team facing the United States at BC Place (7 p.m. PT, tickets available at ticketmaster.ca).
It’s been a long-time dream for Riviere, who fell in love with soccer at a young age. Barely three years into her life, in fact.
“It started from just passing the ball around with my dad,” remembers the now 16-year-old. “I just had this burst of energy all of a sudden, so I knew that soccer was definitely the sport for me.”
That passion grew and grew. Riviere would spend every Saturday and Sunday watching the English Premier League with her dad, supporting Manchester United.
When she got on the pitch herself, she let her natural abilities take over.
“I use my speed to my advantage,” she tells in her own words.
Her father Tony was born in the Caribbean island of Dominica, and her mother Emily in Hong Kong. An only child growing up in Markham, Ontario, Riviere is very close to her parents. So when she was presented with the opportunity to move to Vancouver as part of the Whitecaps FC BC Soccer Super REX Centre, it was a big decision for her and her family.
“It’s definitely a big transition,” she explains of the process. “My dad just said to take the opportunity as best you can.”
And that she has, training with some of the top players her age from across Canada.
“I was nervous at first, but I knew most of the girls from being in the U-17 and U-20 national teams,” she noted. “I understand how they play, and they understand how I play. So I felt better knowing that they’re here.”
It’s an environment that she’s thriving in. That’s in no small part to her development at Markham Soccer Club and the Ontario REX program, as well as her training in Canada Soccer's youth national teams.
She continues to progress in Vancouver as one of the country’s top young attacking talents.
“It’s very high intensity, more than I thought it would be. You definitely get pushed by your teammates, in a positive way.”
It’s not just her teammates who are pushing her, but her coaches as well – led by Whitecaps FC girls director and head coach Emma Humphries.
“I find that I’m learning more,” added Riviere. “The tactics that I did know, I didn’t know that you could do little things just to improve it. Little comments that Emma gives me just make it so much cleaner.”
Now she has her sights set on bigger goals – the biggest one yet – to play for the senior national team.
For the 16-year-old, that opportunity might just come on Thursday at BC Place.
“I couldn’t even describe that,” dreams Riviere of the possibility to make her debut. “That’s been my goal since I was young. To know that I could play for that team, I have no words for it. I’d make my parents proud.”