Team Canada members soak up a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Women’s World Soccer Championships in Vantaa, Finland.
Team Canada flew to Finland last month with a strong contingent from Saskatchewan. Seventeen of the 45 players on the roster were born in Saskatchewan and many of them play football for the Regina Riot or the Saskatoon Valkyries.
“I think it speaks to the quality of Saskatchewan Football,” offensive lineman Alyssa Funk said Friday from the lobby of the team hotel. super lucky for that.
“Not everyone can say the same thing.”
Offensive lineman Betsy Mawdsley said traveling and playing with so many familiar teammates and rivals makes the trip better. Once the roster was finalized, she said it was easy to bury any inter-provincial rivalry players might have between the Valkyries and Riot.
“It’s nice that we have each other and that we can lean on each other and that you can travel with your favorite people. That being said, one thing the Team Canada program does really well is that we’re all one team, and that starts from the day we show up at camp. You’re no longer a member of the Valkyries or the Riot,” she said.
Funk is a veteran member of the team after winning a silver medal in 2017. After two years of complications from COVID-19 delaying or canceling evaluation camps and tournaments, she found it hard to believe that the competition actually took place.
“I think for me, it took us landing in Europe to be like, ‘OK. We’re actually here, and we can do this,'” she said. “Grateful is the perfect word.”
For the first time in program history, Canada will not win a silver medal after historically losing to Team USA in the gold medal final of the eight-team tournament.
The second-ranked Canadians suffered a big upset on Wednesday. Sixth-seeded Great Britain scored a touchdown with two seconds on the clock to snatch a 20-13 win over the Canadians and face the United States for the gold. Canada, which has won silver at the last three world championships, will now face Finland in the bronze medal game on Sunday.
Canada had already beaten Australia in its opening match of the quarter-finals last Saturday by a score of 33-6. Team Canada rookie Emmarae Dale said she was doing her best to keep her feet on the ground and enjoy the experience despite the tough loss.
“Just be present in the moment. Remember, we’re just playing our game, doing our job (and) at the end of the day, we’re just playing (the) sport we love. But that’s kinda crazy to know that we’re not in Kansas anymore,” she said.
With local fans ready to make Sunday’s environment as difficult as possible, Funk knows it will be a tough competition.
“They’re going to be loud. They are hungry, right? They want to win at home. So I think they will come out. They will persist. It will be a very, very good game,” she said.