Olympic success could be a boost to women’s, girls’ soccer across Canada

Click to play video: 'Tokyo Olympics: Canada defeats Sweden, takes gold after nail-biting shootout in women’s soccer final'
Tokyo Olympics: Canada defeats Sweden, takes gold after nail-biting shootout in women’s soccer final
WATCH: The Canadian women's soccer team defeated Sweden in a stunning round of penalty kicks on Friday, bringing home gold after a tied game following extra time set the stage for a nail-biting shootout for both countries. – Aug 6, 2021

With a nail-biter of a shootout victory against Sweden Friday, Canada’s women’s soccer team — which includes Winnipeg midfielder Desiree Scott — won their first-ever gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

While the first-place finish is a huge success for the national soccer organization and for the players themselves, such a high-profile win — especially after bronze medals at two consecutive games leading up to this year’s tournament — could be a shot in the arm for girls’ and women’s soccer nationwide.

“We’re pumped. It’s just awesome. Great for Canadian soccer, for girls’ soccer,” said Amy Anderson, women’s soccer coach at the University of Winnipeg.

“(Canada is) not just competing — we’ve just won gold, and that’s huge. I can’t imagine … for all the girls watching, it’s just awesome.”

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Anderson, who said she encountered some of Canada’s current squad years ago as a coach at past all-star games, said the excitement surrounding the gold-medal victory will have an impact on women of all ages who play the sport, including her own U of W team, which hasn’t had much to cheer for lately due to the pandemic.

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“Things have been interesting not playing as a team for the last couple of years with COVID… so this is something that’s been inspiring,” she said.

“The girls are inspired to play — and what better role models can we have than these young women who represent Canada?”

One takeaway from Canada’s performance, she said, was that the victory was undoubtedly a team effort by women who genuinely seemed to be playing for each other.

“It wasn’t an individual player thing, and I’m really hoping that sinks in for everyone — it’s such a learning (opportunity).”

With Winnipegger and University of Manitoba alumna Scott winning her third Olympic medal — and first gold — her alma mater had nothing but praise for her success.

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“Watching Desiree win an Olympic gold medal and reach the summit of world sport has been an honor,” said U of M athletic director Gene Muller in a statement from the school.

“It is hard to fathom her achievements after the gold medal and over the course of her elite career.

“She has won three medals in consecutive Olympic Games and has cemented her place as a legend of Canadian sport and the game of soccer. She has been an ambassador of women’s sport, the University of Manitoba and the Bisons.

“We could not be prouder of her!”

Click to play video: 'Soccer growing in popularity in Manitoba'
Soccer growing in popularity in Manitoba

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