Friday, April 3, 2009

A Tale Of Two Programs Part 1: Steady As She Goes

So they've been ringing the changes down at the Canadian Soccer Association, and I though it might be fun to take a look at what they've been up to. First of all, let's head to the female side of things, and check out what's been going on with the women's team.

The Canadian national women's team finished 8th at the Beijing Olympics, a result that was either a bit disappointing or an accurate representation of where the team stands on the world stage (actually, Canada is currently ranked 11th in women's soccer, but still). Sadly, the Olympics were the end of the line for Even Pellerud, the team's talismanic Norwegian coach. His resignation was certainly not prompted by poor results, or any displeasure with the man himself; in fact, Canadian women's soccer had advanced light-years during Pellerud's nine years in charge, reaching the heady heights of 4th place at the 2003 World Cup. Although he had been unable to reproduce that success, Canada had done decently enough since then, and there was real worry that Pellerud's departure represented a crippling blow to a women's program that was nosing around elite status.

So far, it appears that those fears are unfounded. In February, the Canadian Soccer Association hired Venetian-born Carolina Morace (above) to head up the women's program. She will coach both the national team and the U20 side. Morace was a superstar player in the 1980s for the Italian national side, which she later went on to coach. In fact, she is the only woman in the world with top-rank professional coaching credentials. She brings along Elisabetta Bavagnoli, former coach of the Italian women's U-19 side, as her assistant. To date, Morace has coached the Canadian women in one tournament, the 2009 Cyprus Cup, where they finished a decent 2nd behind England. The team now has a couple of years to get used to a new coach and a new system before the next World Cup.

Women's international soccer is steadily becoming a tougher place to succeed, as more and more of the traditional men's soccer powers get their women's programs up to speed (see above about England winning the Cyprus Cup). However, the Canadian Soccer Association is showing an admirable ambition to not just keep up, but perhaps even to go further than that. It may all yet end in tears, but right now Big Red looks just fine.

Tomorrow, or whenever I get to it: pour yourself a stiff drink and we'll examine the Canadian men's program.


Chorus said...

I hadn't heard about the new hire... sounds exciting!!

Chunklets said...

It is, I think, quite exciting! In fact, I really don't know if the CSA could have done better than Morace. As mentioned in the post, events yet to come may prove me wrong, but all looks well right now!