Soccer News

Soccer-Canada enter brave new world with Priestman appointment

Oct 28 (Reuters) - The Canada women’s national team confirmed Bev Priestman as head coach on Wednesday and the Briton, who becomes the first woman to lead the side since 2011, said bravery would be at the heart of her coaching philosophy.

Priestman, who spent the past two years as an assistant to Phil Neville with the England women’s squad, returns to Soccer Canada where she worked five years previously in various roles, including stints as an assistant coach on Canada’s national team.

The 34-year-old becomes the first woman to lead the Canadian team since Carolina Morace (2009-11) and succeeds Kenneth Heiner-Moller, who announced in June he was returning home to work with the Danish Football Association.

Priestman said during her introductory news conference that her coaching philosophy is a simple one and one she has lived her own life by -- be brave.

“I left Canada, a great job, took a bit of a risk and for me that risk paid off,” said Priestman. “On the pitch I would ask the players to be brave.

“If we give the ball away 10 times and going forward the 11th do something really brave with or without the ball.

“I just think you will see this group of women, as you have in the past, when they have been successful, they will put everything they have on the pitch.

“I think that is all I have ever asked of the group that put on the Canadian shirt is to do that, be brave when you do that and trust in yourself.”

Priestman brings international experience and some valuable familiarity to uncertain times as Canada, bronze medal winners at the last two Olympics, prepare for the COVID-19 delayed Tokyo Summer Games next July.

The team has not played since March and with players scattered across European and North American professional leagues the challenge of bringing everyone together amid, health, safety and travel restrictions is daunting.

“Obviously in this COVID world the situation is fluid,” said Priestman. “We have to be adaptable.

“People who survived in COVID and the teams that survive and potentially do well at Olympics are potentially those that adapted and looked at the world a little bit differently.” (Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)