Canada’s national soccer team is not going to be hosting a world cup anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that a world cup trophy is not going to touch down in the great white north.
The University of Ottawa Gee-Gee’s women’s soccer team captured Canada’s first-ever U Sports soccer world championship Sunday morning, defeating Brazil’s Paulista University 1-0 in the FISU Women’s World Cup final.
A single goal, that was all Ottawa needed to capture the trophy and the same number of goals that the Brazzliansd had allowed all tournament. Although the offence was something to be recognized, the ferocious defending paved the way to their victory.
The tournament saw the Gee-Gee’s play five games in 10 days, a big change for athletes who are used to a maximum of two a week. “It’s a lot on our bodies, we’re not used to it,” said veteran Ottawa midfielder Katherine Bearnt to U Sports.ca
The number of games was only one of the challenges that the Gee-Gee’s face on their journey to victory. They had to deal with the time change, seeing as the tournament was played in Beijing, as well as tough games, including a penalty shootout in the semi-final.
It was the first iteration of the tournament and it came at one of the most stressful times for student-athletes. The final was November 30th, and the team returns to Canada’s capital on December third, leaving only two games until most of the athletes begin their Christmas exam period on the 5th. Prioritizing is hard for any student but for Ottawa’s female soccer athletes, it was an easy decision. “We have to prioritize soccer, but we have to keep our GPA’s high to compete,” said Thea Nour, a medical student.
Many of the athletes had never left North America, so a tournament offered an eye-opening experience and a chance to see a different side of the world.
Although it is Canada’s first soccer world cup, it is not the first time that a U Sports school has won a FISU title. Canadian teams regularly appear at FISU’s world 3-on-3 basketball championship, where both Universitie de Quebec au Montreal and McGill University have finished atop the podium.
The tournament didn’t garner much attention, but major media outlets such as Sportsnet and the CBC both covered the team’s victory, a true statement for university sports in Canada.