Canadian women’s soccer team kicks off Celebration tour with victory over New Zealand

OTTAWA – It has been more than 29 months since Canada’s National Women’s Soccer Team played a home game.

OTTAWA – It has been more than 29 months since Canada’s National Women’s Soccer Team played a home game. The Olympic champions made their long-awaited return on a victorious Saturday, starting their Celebration Tour in style with a 5-1 victory over New Zealand at TD Place.

The friendly match was the first for the Canadian, sixth since beating Sweden in the Tokyo Games final on August 6.

“I think even before the game started it was very special for all the fans who showed up, they made it a night to remember for the group,” said Canada head coach Bev Priestman. “I think that gave the group a boost and they went to do something special. I think that set the tone for the game.

“Scoring five goals against a top 25 team was important and a step forward for us towards the World Cup.”

Jessie Fleming opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the 12th minute and Christine Sinclair made it 2-0 in the 41st minute. Nichelle Prince and Adriana Leon, with a pair, completed the Canadian score.

“It’s great to be back home and some of us were joking that we couldn’t remember the last time we played at home,” said Sinclair. “To be able to celebrate this gold medal with the fans is obviously a special time and something to celebrate and to see the little kids in the stands is quite special.”

Prince scored in the 58th minute. New Zealander Ria Percival scored from the penalty spot in the 71st minute before Leon scored in the 75th and again in the 82nd minute.

It was the national team’s first home game since May 18, 2019, when Canada defeated Mexico 3-0 at BMO Field in Toronto in a warm-up match before the World Cup in that year. that year in France.

The team played 29 straight games away from Canada before returning to meet the 23rd-ranked Football Ferns.

The tour is to honor the team for their gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last summer. The teams will play again Tuesday in Montreal.

Canada and New Zealand have met in the last two World Cup tournaments. The first meeting, in Edmonton in 2015, was a 0-0 draw. Four years later in Grenoble, Canada won a 2-0 victory.

The 2023 World Cup will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. Canada won their last meeting against New Zealand, a 3-0 decision at a tournament in China in November 2019.

“I think there were a lot of positives we can take from this game actually,” New Zealand defender Ali Riley said. “I know the score is obviously disappointing. But I think the confidence we had from playing from the back, some of the possession spells, some of the combinations.

“I don’t know if that’s something we’ve seen a lot from the Ferns, especially now against one of the best teams in the world, the Olympic champions.”

Shortly before kick-off, Canada Soccer released a statement saying it would meet three requirements of the Canadian Women’s National Team Players Association.

The association called on the federation to commit to creating a safe environment for athletes and to apologize to those who have been “victimized and abused while playing the sport they love”.

In addition, the association asked Canada Soccer to undertake a “transparent and independent review”, at a mutually agreed time, of the investigation into the allegations against Bob Birarda while he was at the club. job of the federation, “to fully understand what happened and to develop recommendations and best practices to better protect athletes.”

Birarda, a former coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Canada Soccer women’s teams, was charged last December with sexual offenses involving four people. He was fired by the Whitecaps and Canada Soccer in 2008.

The BC Prosecution Service said Birarda was facing six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault and one count of luring children. The alleged infractions occurred in North Vancouver, Burnaby and West Vancouver between January 1988 and March 25, 2008.

More than a dozen women who played for the Whitecaps and were part of Canada’s Under-20 talent pool around 2008 have come forward to allege Birarda acted inappropriately with team members.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Birarda appeared in court last December and was released under strict conditions. His case is scheduled to resume Thursday in a North Vancouver court.

The association also called for the full implementation of the Independent Safe Sport Mechanism and called on the federal government to protect vulnerable athletes by making it mandatory for all national sports organizations by the end of the year.

“We know we have a responsibility to use this amazing platform,” Priestman said. “And so the players, Canada Soccer, we felt it was really powerful to kick off this new era with that and to celebrate some of the great practices that are in place with Safe Sport and Canada Soccer, also to address the past and go forward in this new era. ”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 23, 2021.

Darren Desaulniers, The Canadian Press

About Walter J. Leslie

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