Canadian women’s national team manager Bev Priestman met with the media after training on Thursday, and she gave her thoughts on the upcoming two-game friendly series against Australia where Canada will say goodbye to iconic all-time leading scorer Christine Sinclair, as well as legends Sophie Schmidt and Erin McLeod. Here’s some of what Priestman had to say:
On the overall vibe surrounding the squad right now:“It's actually felt really light, but there's obviously clear emotion there … I'm putting myself in Sophie and Christine’s shoes and you almost don't know what to expect … BC place, it's gonna hit real but there's a lightness … [Christine’s] had that freeness about her. I feel like she's taken in every moment. And Sophie, she's a lovely human being in the group and it just feels warm is the word I would probably use to describe it. But yes, it's real. It's there, and it's going to become more real as this camp goes on.”
On learning to not have Christine and Sophie around anymore:“The team is definitely becoming more leader-full and I don't mean that because they've gone, I mean, because people have to step up and I think this is a team that's unique [and has] many voices, not one voice which I think is quite nice… I think off the pitch, the voices are definitely appearing. I think on the pitch, there's something there that will be felt … maybe like the first half of the second Brazil game, when it's not going how we want it to go, there's a genuine feeling of ‘let's not let ‘Sinc’ down or let's turn to ‘Sinc’ for that answer. That's real and it's going to take some time.”
On Sinclair’s legacy:“She’s irreplaceable, that’s the one word that comes to mind. On the pitch, off the pitch, it’s really weird to imagine life in camp without Christine ... On the pitch, these players idolize and adore Christine and Sophie. Some of these players started playing or started taking it seriously because of what they'd seen on the pitch from these human beings and now their in camp celebrating the last moments with them."
On sharing this moment with Christine as her head coach:"I learned very quickly that she just has an unbelievable football brain... it's that simplicity and just the football [knowledge] that she has, and over time our relationship has developed and I feel really honored to be sharing this moment as a head coach ... she is Miss Canada... This is a big deal and so it's just trying to balance that and 'where's her emotion at' and no doubt she's getting hit left, right and center with this plan and this plan and it's really like trying to respect the space someone needs, who's going through a retirement of this magnitude."
On preparations for Australia:“We have to sort of balance where we're at and there's also an element of momentum… we're in a similar situation [as Australia] in the sense of you're dealing with players who are out of season and you're dealing with Champions League three game weeks… you add in all those aspects, you would speak to sports science and medical and there is that consideration. Facing, whoever we get in Australia, we have to respect what they bring, and what for us will be balancing [the squad] across both games and trying to build on some of the partnerships that we've seen … it could be two different tests, but either way, it's going to be a test.”