Local soccer stars aspire to follow Team Canada's golden example
MONTREAL -- After Team Canada's Julia Grosso scored the decisive penalty in a shootout to beat Sweden for the country's first ever women's soccer Olympic gold medal, many young players have now been given something to aspire to as the game grows in Montreal.
"I was watching it with my dad because my dad is my biggest supporter we were just so happy," said Saint-Laurent U-15 goalkeeper Alisa Rose-Franco.
"Of course it's a dream to go to the Olympics, but I wouldn't really want to go to penalty kicks, it's really stressful," said midfielder Sonia Cellini.
Canada's golden performance comes after two bronze medals, and the win could be the final game for legendary Canadian captain Christine Sinclair.
Sinclair has scored more international goals than any player including Argentinian Lionel Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.
"She essentially carried the soccer nation - men's and women's - on her back," said Team Canada defender Rhian Wilkinson, who played from 2003 to 2017. "She's a once-in-a-generation player."
Many former players point out, however, that there is no local league to develop young female players.
"It changes the landscape for Canadian soccer and even for sport for Canadian women," said Team Canada midfielder Amy Walsh who played from 1997 to 2009. "We need to find a place for them to play. Can we find a league, can we build a league for them to play in?"
"I don't know if this is the right time to say it but you guys for your daughters and sons who can play in the CPL we need to make sure there's somewhere in Canada for these young people to play so that at 18-19-20 their careers are not over," said Wilkinson
For young players, seeing fellow Canadians at the top of the podium is a good start.
"It's quite a hard path, but I aspire to try and do that," said Cellini.
"The sky is the limit I guess," said Rose-Franco. "There are role models out there we can look up to."