The sky is falling on Canadian soccer because of the failure of our most successful team in recent history.
Every journalist, soccer fan and casual observer who has witnessed the collapse of our Canadian Women’s National Team at the World Cup is crying for blood.
What’s the deal with this residency program? How could they fight for Morace and end up with this result?
Who’s to blame?
It’s a natural reaction to high expectations that aren’t fulfilled. Like lining up for Transformers 2, and then wanting to hunt down Michael Bay to demand those two hours of your life back.
Sometimes things don’t always go the way we think they should.
Jason Devos wrote a very insightful article, proclaiming a call to action for soccer in this country. Beginning at the grassroots level and focusing on skill development above all else.
Apparently we’re not the only country that has this concern.
The Big Lead is asking for the same approach to be taken for American Soccer as well.
The idea of developing skills at an early age seems to make sense. As Devos points out, that’s why we send our kids to school to learn rather than just giving them a pencil and paper and saying, “Have fun with those letter shapes. Hope you learn how to write.”
Unfortunately, by expecting volunteer coaches with no knowledge of the game to teach our budding athletes, that’s what we’re doing. The amount of skill development at the grassroots level will always need improvement in Canada but that applies to any sport and really isn’t reflective of the elite levels.
When Ronaldo, Messi and Rooney came up short at the World Cup last year, their amateur system wasn’t to blame.
The team was.
Take our beloved national sport. Canadians would argue that we are the undisputed galactic champions in ice hockey. Sidney Crosby sealed that title (at least for the next few years) with an amazing goal in overtime, on home soil, with the entire country clinging to the edge of their seat.
The Golden Goal aside however, let’s look at Canada’s recent hockey performances in major international competitions.
Men’s World Championships:
2010 – Canada loses to Russia 5-2 quarter final
2009 – Canada loses to Russia 2-1 in Gold Medal Game
2008 – Canada loses to Russia 5-4 in Gold Medal game
2006 – Canada loses to Finland 3-2 in semi-final
2005 – Canada loses 3-0 in Gold Medal Game to Czech Republic
How quickly we forget the 2006 Canadian Olympic team, assembled by the Great One himself, that failed to even medal at the Games. We weren’t a happy country. You know who was really peeved at Hockey Canada to the point of expressing his displeasure to the media?
A teenager by the name of Sidney Crosby.
Sweeping reforms to the entire hockey infrastructure would have had no effect on the 18 year old NHL phenom. The difference between 2006 and 2010 was a team that was well prepared and laser focused on bringing home the gold medal.
Led by The Kid, who undoubtedly had a more reasons than any other Canadian to be disappointed in 2006.
If you recall in Vancouver, Crosby didn’t have a particularly great tournament. Yet he weathered the storm mentally, kept his composure, played his game, and eventually came through with one of the most electrifying goals in hockey history.
The Canadian women’s Sidney Crosby broke her nose in the first match. And the downward spiral began.
Kaylyn Kyle didn’t even leave it up to speculation: “We panicked”, she said, after only one goal in their second match.
Sinclair is, without a doubt, one of the most skilled players in the game. This team went into the tournament on an impressive winning streak and were ranked number 6 in the world. Unless the last 18 months have been a complete fluke, FIFA’s ranking system is a sham, and all of the experts and media have been blowing smoke, these girls clearly DO have the skill to compete at this level.
They just came up dramatically short of the goal.
When Batman went down, Gotham’s psyche crumbled.
The question should be, how do they prepare mentally to make sure that it doesn’t happen again?
While you ponder that, take 30 seconds to hear an expert describe the trans-formative power of failure.
Joslin Green is the Founder and President of PLAY3RSPORT, the Leadership Academy for the Next Generation of Athletes. Connect with him on Twitter @JoslinDGreen