The Women’s National Team will be on tour January 17-30, 2018.
The CanadianWomen’s National Team is en route to Chile for a two-week training tour featuring four test matches against the host nation. Assistant coach, Steph Andrews, said the trip comes at a great time for the team.
“Not only will it be good to get into some warm weather, it’s also an opportunity to test ourselves against a good side in Chile,” she said.
Canada dropped a heart-breaker, 1-0, against Chile at World League Round 2 in West Vancouver last year and will be looking for revenge. According to Andrews, the search for warm weather has a more strategic meaning than merely getting out of the Vancouver rain.
“We have the Commonwealth Games coming up in April in Australia,” she said. “The warm weather tours help us acclimatize and adapt to playing in the heat. Playing in Chile and then again in California will set us up nicely to be able to play in the heat.”
Veteran midfielder, Hannah Haughn, agreed that the tour to Santiago comes at a good time for the unit. She said the priority is getting back to the level they showed at the 2017 Pan American Cup.
“Last year was tough for us. We didn’t have the results we wanted despite playing well, especially at the end of the year,” Haughn said. “We are very excited to come together as team early in the year and set a benchmark for ourselves moving forward.”
It’s an understatement to say it’s shaping up to be a busy winter/spring for the Women’s National Team. They will spend the rest of January in Chile and then take off to Chula Vista, California for the last two weeks of February training out of the U.S. Elite Training Centre. It will only be a month turn-around for the team before they find themselves on the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games. The team will then head back across the Pacific in May for the prestigious Hawkes Bay tournament in New Zealand. Both Andrews and Haughn say that they think the busy schedule will benefit the team, but it doesn’t come without challenges.
“We will be away from home a lot during this half of the year. We have to focus on managing the stressors that come along with performing day-in-day-out on the road,” Haughn said. “We haven’t had a schedule like this in a long time and it will definitely be a challenge; a good test for us.”
For Andrews, she expects the increase in the quantity and the quality competition to have a great effect on the team.
“Playing matches is critical,” Andrews said. “If you want to gel as a team and play well together, you have to play games. We are really looking forward to testing ourselves against Chile and the U.S. before Commonwealth Games.”
The major test of the year comes at the beginning of April in Australia at the Commonwealth Games. Without looking past the importance of the training tours, Haughn said the team is looking forward to the major multi-sport event on the Gold Coast.
“It’s a pretty special competition. I’m looking forward to being a part of a collective Team Canada and connecting with other Canadian athletes from across the country. It’s a very unique experience,” Haughn said. “On the field, the Commonwealth Games provides us top quality competition, which makes it even more special.”
Haughn said the team has learned a lot over the course of the last few years and have gelled well into a cohesive unit. She said that the team is ready to take that next step and move up in the world rankings.
“I’m looking forward to potentially upsetting some teams at Commonwealth Games and then again at Hawkes Bay,” Haughn said. “These next five months are really huge for us. It’s so much great competition and it really prepares us for Olympic qualification.”
Although the Olympic qualification schedule isn’t set yet, the team believes it will commence in the fall of 2018. After a disappointing exit from the World Cup qualification, the urgency is high and the team is gunning for a spot at Tokyo 2020.