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Canadian women's soccer team eyeing camp of firsts

Last Updated Jan 25, 2021 at 1:23 pm MDT

Women’s exhibition training match 20 January 2020 – Austin, TX, USA Canada Soccer by Patrick Gilbreath

660 NEWS — It will be a training camp of firsts for the Canadian women’s national soccer team.

First camp of 2021.

First camp in nearly a year.

First camp run by head coach Bev Priestman.

First senior camp for several players.

A group of nearly 30 has been picked for the upcoming two-week preparation leading into the 2021 SheBelieves Cup.

RELATED: Canadian women’s soccer team heading south for SheBelieves Cup

And after the coaching staff has a closer look at its talent, it will name Canada’s final 23-player roster for February’s four-nation tournament ahead of the opener versus the Americans.

“We’re really excited to get back together, get on the grass for me personally for the first time as head coach with this team,” Bev Priestman said during a media call. “It’s been almost over a year that the group’s been together. I already get a sense of real hunger, desire, excitement for the group to get back together.

“For Canadians back home, it’s a chance to see that there’s hope in the world that we’re living in, and we’ll be doing everything we can to execute the camp safely. Really, really, comfortable where things are at on that front.

“On the grass, the group, it’s about connecting again, and there’s a whole group of players who aren’t yet in season. I think just getting back on the grass and starting to building some of the ideas.”

There are plenty of familiar names on the roster: captain Christine Sinclair, Alberta product Stephanie Labbe and 2020 Canadian player of the year, Kadeisha Buchanan.

But the camp will also see first-timers: Rylee Foster, Bianca St-Georges, Samantha Chang, Jordyn Listro and Evelyne Viens.

“I’ve seen it from being a youth coach, and any player that went into the national women’s team are welcomed with opened arms,” Priestman offered when asked about the approach the new faces should have.

“They know that having that blend of experience and youth and future in mind is really important. That’s the first thing.

“I think the second thing is any player that’s getting exposure in this first camp has absolutely nothing to lose. Expectations? Do I expect those five, six players to be on an Olympic roster? Maybe not, but who knows, they might absolutely prove me wrong, but they can certainly be knocking on the door. They’ve got nothing to lose because they’ve been brought in for a reason — they’ve shown some attributes that I think this group needs.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s only going to help’: Canada’s Bev Priestman hopes to inspire other women to consider coaching

Canada is scheduled to face USA, Japan, and Brazil at the sixth edition of the SheBelieves Cup — all top 10 ranked teams.

For Priestman, it’s the ideal preparation for what this summer may bring.

“It’ll be the last tournament setting that we get before an Olympic Games,” the coach said. “We have two bronze medals around our neck, and our ultimate goal is change the colour of the medal, but I think historically, you look at this last year with this group, getting a win against a tier-one opposition is something that we need to move up towards.

“To test ourselves against some big hitters is where we need to be for an Olympic Games. For me personally, after that tournament [SheBelieves], it’ll give me a great snapshot of where this group’s at.”

The SheBelieves Cup runs Feb. 18-24 in Orlando, and this marks Canada’s first time taking part in the competition.