As a member of the Canadian national women’s soccer program, Burnaby’s Emma Regan has been able to “wave the flag” at stadiums in faraway places.
But today, the 17-year-old teen will get to carry it and lead Team B.C. into the stadium to start the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg.
Regan was selected to carry the province’s flag heading into the opening ceremonies for the national games, which run July 28 to Aug. 13.
It’s not a stretch to imagine this talented fullback, who played in back-to-back FIFA World Cup tournaments last year, would take such an honour with ice water in her veins.
How it compares to pulling on the red and white jersey against a rival like the U.S. is immeasurable, she said. In fact, Regan says the honour of leading a multi-sport team of 354 athletes, 52 coaches, 27 managers and technical support staff and 22 mission staff at a national event is a huge thrill.
“It’s definitely up there, to represent Canada. To be a flagbearer and represent Team B.C. is also a huge honour for me,” said the Burnaby Central student. “This is, like, my first games where it’s going to be multi-sports, athletes from all over B.C. and from all different sports competing together.
“I’m super excited and I think my team is really excited. We’re all ready to go.”
Team B.C.’s roster also includes Burnaby native and fellow Whitecaps Girls Elite REX product Kaela Hansen.
Through a lengthy selection process and training towards becoming a team in short order, B.C.’s first game on Saturday – against Newfoundland and Labrador – will see the adrenalin flow as they aim to repeat as soccer champions.
“We’ve been practising kind of over the past month. We’ve had a few games recently, and most of us knew each other prior to being selected for the team, like on provincial teams and club teams. We’re gelling as a team, which is good,” Regan said.
Earlier this month, she was in Australia with the Canadian women’s under-20 team competing in a pair of exhibition tests in preparation for the 2018 FIFA u20 World Cup in France. Canada soundly defeated the U.S. 4-1 in the opener.
In the second game of the tour, Canada ran up against a physical Australian team, with the end result a 1-0 loss and a lesson that will serve the squad well, noted the future University of Texas defender.
“It was really physical and they have a very strong team, very experienced,” said Regan. “A few of their players played with their senior team and went to the Olympics. Props to them, they played a real good game. If we’re to play them again we would do a few things differently.”
By beating the U.S., the Canadians returned home with confidence that they can contend with the powerhouses at the World Cup.
“Yeah, I definitely had butterflies for that game. Whenever you play the U.S., I think you go into it thinking it’s going to be a fight. I thought we had a really good all-around performance, and the whole team was super excited that we won. We’ve had our defeats or close games with the U.S. in the past so to get the win was a really big step for our team. It gave us a lot of confidence moving forward.”
She already has 21 entries in her international playing career, including last Nov-ember’s FIFA World Cup in Papua New Guinea, which came a month after she represented Canada at the u17 World Cup in Jordan.
“It was an amazing experience, like once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, to play two World Cups like that really close together. The first one was definitely a learning experience. We didn’t quite make it out of our group but I definitely took a lot away from that tournament. It helped prepare me for the u20 World Cup, because that was definitely a step up,” she remarked.
Canada won only once – 3-2 over Cameroon in the u17 tourney – but being on that stage and up against the best competition in the world proved to be a great building block.
“The quality of opposition was amazing at (the u20) tournament. I think all these tournaments are kind of building for us. The next one will be in France in 2018, so any opportunity we get to play an international match like we did in Australia is definitely going to help us going forward.”
From her early beginning at the Burnaby Girls and Cliff Avenue soccer clubs, to being selected for the Whitecaps Girls Elite program, Regan has embraced each opportunity head on. Moving to fullback with the national team, after years as a midfielder, was just another test to check off her list.
“For me, it was about adapting. I use to be a midfielder, so that was more of an attacking role, while fullback it’s defence first,” she noted.
“That was the biggest change, familiarizing myself with how a fullback plays and the defensive responsibilities. I think I’ve come to really own that role and hopefully I’ll continue to progress in that position and see where it takes me.”
She’s equally effusive of the Whitecaps program, where she credits a major step in her progress was achieved as a player.
“Without the Whitecaps I definitely wouldn’t have had probably the national team experiences I’ve had, just because day-in, day-out we’re getting the best coaching and the best training with the very best players that we can.”
For now, playing for B.C. is an extension of her great adventure. And while they come from various
“I kind of just go on the field and do my thing. I think a few of the other girls on this team who play on the national team with me, and I think all of our mindsets are, yeah, bring our international experience but at the end of the day we’re still on a team with everyone else from our province.”
The Canada Summer Games run July 28 to Aug. 13.
Here is a complete list of the Burnaby participants at the Games: Sport, athletics – April Armstrong, Peter Behncke, Nathan Mah, Vladislav Moldavanov; Baseball – Joshua Marchese; Basketball – Jiordano Khan; Canoe/kayak – Zaffia Laplante, Katrina Loutet, Samantha Loutet, Cory Rublee (tech support); Soccer – Kaela Hansen, Emma Regan, Paul Turner (coach), Lucas Dalla Pace (coach), Mihai Hodut; Swimming – Zoe Froh; Volleyball, indoor – Brad Hudson (coach); Wrestling – Sara Brinkac, Danielle Lappage (coach), John Pineda (coach), Amanda Silveri.