Wileman: Canadian women's team looks to build on success

Luke Wileman

12/17/2012 11:46:18 AM

It was a milestone moment and something that will never be forgotten, but as Canada's Women's National Team got together for the first time since winning Olympic Bronze, the message was clear - it's time to move on.

It was great to spend some time with the team late last week as they opened their training camp in Vancouver and also attended the emblem unveiling for the 2015 Women's World Cup at BC Place. Talking to the players, it's very evident they're determined to build on the success they achieved in London and make the nation proud once again when Canada welcomes the world.

As well as fitness sessions and on-pitch training, team meetings have played a major role in the training camp as head coach John Herdman charts the course for the team heading towards 2015.

"The energy in the group is fantastic and they know that there is something special just around the corner." said Herdman. "They know what they did for Canada and they won't be forgotten, but they are past that now. It's a journey and they will have to become something different as a team."

"We absolutely have to evolve again. If you think of the Olympic Games, it was the performance from the US game that people remember more than anything else. We want to capture that and add to it so that when we go into the World Cup, we want people to say they are proud of every performance that we put out there."

"To get to that level, it's our attacking game that has to change," explained Herdman. "There's a big gap there and the girls are aware of that. We might take a couple of hits along the way or have to get out of our comfort zone and we might even slip out of the top ten rankings for a time, but when we get to 2015, we want to inspire a nation with our brand of football."

Herdman talks about getting the players to buy in to his plan. When it comes to that task it's already job done. It's incredible to see the immense respect the players have for their coach and, as goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc told me, "It's never been hard to follow John. He inspires you and is a great leader."

"John told us we have to shed a whole new skin," said LeBlanc. "There is going to be a lot of growth and new things with young players coming in. In 2015, we want to entertain the country and entertain the world, but more importantly, we want to inspire people again."

"Sometimes you have to go back to go forward. We want to go forward," said LeBlanc. "We want to be a possession team that is beautiful to look at. It's a process, but it's the end result that matters. The bigger picture is for soccer to get better in Canada."

It's extremely impressive to hear how the players on the team are committed to growing the game in our country. For them, it's not about individual success - it's a team mentality. That's exemplified by the incredible character of Christine Sinclair.

Sinclair was the top scorer at the Olympics and set a record for the number of goals a player has scored with the Women's National team in a calendar year. She also won just about every award available, including the historic Lou Marsh award. But even Sinclair isn't satisfied with resting on this success.

"We don't want the bronze medal to be a one-time thing," Sinclair told me after training at Richmond Oval. "We need to work on our consistency so that come 2015, it's not a fluke that we're at the top. It is one thing to perform one-time in London but we want to do better than that. It would be something completely different to do it on home soil in the World Cup."

For full interviews with head coach John Herdman and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, check out this week's edition of the TSN FC soccer podcast with Luke Wileman and Jason deVos, available Thursday, December 20th at