Burnaby is about to get some prestigious temporary residents - the Canadian women's national soccer team is coming to Fortius Sport and Health to train for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
The team plans to build on its success at the 2012 London Olympics when they won bronze, according to head coach John Herdman.
"The question was, 'Can you do it again?'" Herdman said at a press conference at Fortius on Monday. "And the expectation in Canada now is, we want to do it again."
Herdman was very enthusiastic about Fortius Sport and Health, and what the centre might do for athletes.
"The one thing that's definitely been missing is a one-stop shop, a Formula One pit stop for athletes where world-class people were there on site every day," he said. "We recognize that we can bring our players to a centre like Fortius with the quality of people here and their level of service, and we shouldn't have any real excuses going into the Olympics."
In addition to the World Cup and Olympic athletes, the women's national soccer team will also be training its younger athletes at the centre, he said. This week, the women's U14 to U16 athletes are attending a training camp at Fortius.
"We're bringing all our young female national teams here," Herdman said. "We want to make sure this becomes a centre of excellence and expertise and knowledge and thinking for the women's soccer game here in Canada."
According to Herdman, Fortius offers a completely different system than is available anywhere else in the world.
"Look, I think this is a very unique system. The research I've done around the world is that there's no other national team that has got access to a facility like this on a system basis like we will for four months a year. And the youth teams don't get access to these sort of facilities or the experts," he said. "Look, we're going to leave a legacy here, it's a systemic change of making sure that our young players get access to the same things that our senior players get access to, and we're to break this culture of having an ambulance at the cliff, where, you're fixing all the bad habits of senior players. Our young players will get world-class support, treatment and think like an Olympic player from the time they begin."
Members of the team program will be staying at the Fortius Lodge, which has 60 beds, during training camps and will have access to the Fortius pitch, gymnasium, Hydroworx 2000 underwater treadmill, lab, and performance vision programming, as well as a 10,000-square-foot athlete conditioning area.
Dr. Rick Celebrini, director of sport medicine and science for Fortius, spoke at the conference, saying Herdman is a visionary whose ideas are in line with Fortius, not just in terms of athlete development but in terms of athlete health.
The model at Fortius includes both injury and disease prevention, he said, and is client focused and integrated.
Mayor Derek Corrigan was also at the conference and said Fortius was a "crowning jewel" for Burnaby.
"We're looking forward to having international athletes come to this centre. We're looking forward to this being a home for national teams," he said. "This is a facility that will grow not just physically but will grow in the admiration of people throughout our country because they are going to recognize that this is unique, this is a very specialized facility that is going to allow us to produce some of the greatest athletes Canada has ever had."
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