The opportunity to play a Women’s World Cup game in Vancouver would mean a lot to Emily Zurrer on so many levels.
For one, Team Canada doesn’t have any group-stage matches scheduled at BC Place, so the only way they would get to play in Vancouver would be if they reached the quarterfinals or semis – or the final on July 5. It would also mean a homecoming for Zurrer, who grew up in Crofton and still has strong family ties to the Cowichan Valley. "That’s the ultimate goal," Zurrer said on Tuesday, a month and a day before Canada’s first World Cup match against China in Edmonton on June 6. "We’ve been training the past year in Vancouver, and that’s my home base, so there would be nothing better than to play a game in my home province, in front of my friends and family and the crowd here."
The 2015 Women’s World Cup is an opportunity for redemption for Canada, which placed last out of 16 teams at the 2011 tournament.
"That was disappointing for all of us," Zurrer recalled. "It was one of the lowest points of our careers."
That disappointment led to the hiring of head coach John Herdman, who immediately turned things around and guided Canada to a bronze medal at the Olympics just a year later.
"That goes to show how important a coach can be and a leader can be," Zurrer said. "He was able to get the most out of us when we were at the lowest point in our careers."
Despite being ranked eighth in the world right now and not being a favourite, Canada’s aim is to finish first on home soil.
"Our goal is to win the World Cup," Zurrer said. "It’s as simple as that. I think we’ll be the most prepared team. We are so connected both on and off the field."
Playing at home comes with pressure, but the Canadians are embracing that.
"I think that’s going to help us," Zurrer said.
Canada will keep busy until that game against China. Next, they will head to Los Angeles for closed-door matches against the U.S. and Mexico. Then it’s off to Mexico for a heat-acclimatization camp. Finally, they will play their last exhibition match against England in Hamilton on May 29.
The Canadian Women’s National Team is partnering with Mondelez Canada for the Pride Joy campaign. Throughout the World Cup, fans can activate the Pride Joy app on their smartphones and raise money for local youth soccer clubs across Canada every time they shake their phones during a game. The app will be released on May 11, and more information is available at prideandjoy2015.ca