It will be a welcome relief for the Men’s National Team to get out of the rain, sleet and foggy mornings that have plagued training sessions since November. According to Dave Carter, MNT goalkeeper, the winter training months in Vancouver may make the team tougher but the players are looking forward to training in Spain.
The team departs this weekend for a two-week training tour and five-nations tournament in Malaga, Spain and will return on February 5. For head coach, Paul Bundy, this tour is primarily focused on training and getting the process right leading into the Commonwealth Games.
“We’ve narrowed down our group to 22 guys. We’re going to train for a week and then compete against some good teams for a week,” Bundy said. “This tour is about training, getting the processes right and really cementing our culture that we’ve been working on.”
Carter, a veteran on Team Canada has seen his fair share of training tours and tournaments. He still looks forward to getting on the road with his teammates and spending quality time bonding as a team.
“Touring is a big part of team building,” Carter said. “It gives us a good chance to mesh as a group in training and competition environments. We need to be a cohesive unit on and off the field if we are going to succeed on the international stage.”
Bundy said that this tour will also serve as an assessment period for the coaching staff to select their 18 players that will be on the Commonwealth Games roster in April. Carter knows this and said he expects a lot of productive competition amongst the players for a coveted spot.
“There is going to be a lot of competition for spots on. We have taking 22 players on this training tour and we only take 18 to the Commonwealth Games,” Carter said. “It will be very competitive with those spots on the line.”
Bundy said that this training tour comes at a good time in the year schedule. Expecting that the weather won’t be very good in the local training environment, his staff scheduled this winter tour with sights on a warmer climate. Bundy said everything is a stepping-stone process.
“This tour will be a litmus test for where we are at heading into the Commonwealth Games,” he said. “And then at Commonwealth Games, we get to play against some of the best teams in the world and see where we are at moving into the World Cup. We’ll be looking at everything from our athletes, systems and style of play.”
2018 is shaping up to be a huge year for the Men’s National Team with Commonwealth Games this spring, the World Cup in December and Olympic qualifiers on the horizon as well. With that in mind, the urgency and competitiveness has already picked up and will no doubt carry forward into Malaga as the team prepares for their first international match in over six months.