• Tuesday May 24, 2016

    CONCACAF Q&A: Shelina Zadorsky (Washington Spirit & Canada)

    Shelina Zadorsky (pictured) is in her first season with the Washington Spirit and hopes to be on Canada's roster for the Olympic Games later this year. (Photo: spitfire2485/Washington Spirit)

    Just 23-years-old, Canada international Shelina Zadorsky has already seen more of the world than most will in a lifetime thanks to her soccer talents.

    She has played professionally in Australia, Europe and now in North America with current NWSL table-topper Washington Spirit.

    The Olympic hopeful shared her story with CONCACAF.com.

    Washington Spirit is first in the NWSL after six games with four wins, a draw and a loss. What’s the reason for the fast start?

    I think there’s a great mix of players here with the Spirit. There are a lot of players with a lot of experience and I think everyone has been gelling really well. Not to sound clichéd, but it’s been, on and off the pitch, a good environment and I think people really show up to training every day and, hopefully, that shows up in our game.

    You have played every minute of Washington’s opening six games.  How would you describe your role with the team and your responsibilities on the field?
    It’s great working in a new back line. It’s a challenge, but working with Ali Krieger and Megan Oyster, it’s been fun—especially with Stephanie Labbe behind us in goal. The mix of players has been really positive. For me, as a center back, I try to take on a bit of a leadership role back there. I try to organize and communicate and lead the back line.

    You joined the Spirit this season and some of your Canada teammates are also on the roster. Has that helped you get comfortable with the team?

    Absolutely. It’s really nice to have some friendly faces and two veteran leaders who really helped pave the way for me in the national team. They really helped me there and here we get to live together and train together, so it’s good having Canadian friends here. It makes it a bit more ‘homey’ I guess and we get along really well, so it’s easy there.

    There are also some United States national team players on the Spirit. Taking into consideration the rivalry between the U.S. and Canada, how is the dynamic between you? Do you talk about past USA-Canada games?

    It’s fun. For me, I’m kind of lucky in that I’ve only experienced that rivalry recently. I know how real it is just with the Olympic qualifiers and we ended up losing in the final to them. It was a great game. The other veteran players have played them so many times. They have that history. I’m more fresh, but it’s more fun and it’s a really good rivalry. I’m looking forward to Rio for sure but at the same time here, it’s easy to separate because we’re focused on bettering ourselves here and hoping to succeed with the Spirit. It’s really fun to play with players like Crystal Dunn and Ali Krieger and players of that quality. They really bring a lot to the table.

    You have 13 caps for Canada.  How are you enjoying the early days of your international career?

    This past year has been incredible. It went from Pan American Games in the summer, getting the full team call-up there and then playing full-time with the first team. It’s been a really crazy year and I’m just learning from the people who know it best...people like Christine Sinclair and Diana Matheson, who have done it for so many years. I think it’s been such a learning year for me. Playing beside Kadeisha Buchanan, the FIFA Young Player of the Year, all-in-all it’s been incredible.

    You played in the 2008 FIFA U-17 and 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups. What did you take away from those competitions?

    Those were my first major tournaments. Representing your country in any tournament, whether it’s youth or the full team is always an honor. Those game experiences are really where you learn as a player. You play against the best in the world and, especially at a young age, you’re not as mature as a player. But at the same time, you’re there and you’re growing and those experiences make you better as a player for sure.

    At what age did you start playing soccer, how did you first get involved and who were some your influences growing up?

    I think I started when I was four or five. I started in Kitchener (Ontario) and played there. I had some really great coaches. I ended up moving to London (Ontario) and played some club soccer there. I got into the provincial program and worked my way through that and then was with the youth national teams. I was able to go to the University of Michigan and enjoy four years there. I graduated from there and played professionally for two seasons abroad in Australia and Sweden and that brought me here to the Spirit for this season. Soccer’s been a big part of my life and I’m thankful I can call it my job now.

    What motivates you as a player each day?

    Being around such hard-working individuals is inspiring to be around. It’s unique in the fact that you get to learn from so many different people and work together with so many different people. You have leaders like John Herdman with the national team, who really know how to push you and make you a better player day in and day not. Not just a better player, but a better person, so you learn from such influential people. My family has supported me along this whole journey and I think that’s a huge factor being able to play, see them in the stands and know that they’re proud of me. That’s a big part of it and, of course, just bettering myself every day in the sport I love.

    What are some your favorite things to do away from the soccer field?

    I like to explore wherever I am and see new places and do fun things. DC’s a beautiful city, but I haven’t gotten quite enough out here yet. We have done a few things like go to the Cherry Blossom Festival and do some fun things. It’s important to experience the places where you are. When I was in Australia, I loved to go to the beach. I like to get more into coaching as well because I’d like to do more with that. I like just hanging out with the girls and reading and things like that.

    If you could play with any player in the history of soccer, who would it be and why?

    If I say currently, I love to watch Barcelona play. I love how Gerard Pique plays as a center back and, of course, you have the likes of Messi and Neymar and Suarez up top, so if I could just join in on a Barcelona training session that would be great.

    CONCACAF Women’s Football Day was celebrated this past weekend. Why can playing soccer be so important to young girls today?

    It’s a beautiful game and it’s so important for young girls to be involved in sports and to chase a dream. To be around great leaders and coaches, it’s really important for the development as a kid and it not only helps you on the field but playing this sport helps you off the field. It helps you build confidence and belief in yourself that you can go after what you want and absolutely build relationships that will last. It’s a great part of your childhood to play in a sport and succeed.


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