Canada's Jessie Fleming (red jersey) won the Golden Ball award at the 2013 CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship and has already played in FIFA World Cups at three different age levels. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – Clearly, Canada has a quality plan for the development of women’s footballers.
An established CONCACAF power, it wants to continue strengthening the foundation that will result in an influential, successful and long-term presence on the global stage.
The process to do so, however, does not consist of vague and flowery words on a piece of paper that resides in the darkness of a file cabinet.
Quite the contrary. The Canadians have made a serious commitment to action and doing, rather writing and talking.
That’s why their participation in next month’s CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship in Honduras is so crucial.
“In Canada, we have a six-year progression, where we have the under-17 national team to the twenty to what we call acceleration and to the women’s national team,” said under-20 women’s head coach Daniel Worthington, following Wednesday’s draw at Hotel Real Intercontinental in San Pedro Sula. “I think what you’ll see is, look, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. We’re going to be bringing players that we feel have potential to move forward eventually to John Herdman’s team, the women’s national team.
“This is step one in their journey.”
Due to having an automatic place in the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup as host, Canada did not participate in the last CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship. It returns this year and was drawn into Group A with the host nation, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica.
“It’s exciting times to be drawn in Honduras’ group,” Worthington remarked. “I think that’s a positive for us. It’s just going to be a good chance for our young players to learn to be international footballers against the host country.”
The roster will contain at least two players – midfielder Jessie Fleming and defender Sura Yekka – with extensive senior national team experience.
Fleming, just 17-years-old, is one of the world’s brightest young talents. Her meteoric rise was ignited two years ago, when she led Canada to a runner-up finish in the 2013 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship, garnering Golden Ball honors as the tournament’s best player. Since then, Fleming has played in the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup (4 games, 1 goal), the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (3 games, 0 goals) and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup (2 games, 0 goals).
“I think it’s a bigger picture,” finished Worthington. “I think, right now, we have a goal where we want to produce more [Christine] Sinclairs, more often. This is a staging post for us. It’s a tournament experience that we’re going to give young players a chance to perform under pressure.
“I think it’s just about keeping it simple, keeping it more about the process, learning.”
And, earning a seventh trip to the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.