Three Mountain FC girls will be living the island life with Canada’s first-ever under-15 girls’ national soccer team.
Forward Camila Gomez Hernandez, midfielder Julia Grosso and converted defender Emma Regan of Burnaby were all named to Canada’s national team to the inaugural CONCACAF u-15 championships in the Cayman Islands, beginning Thursday against Puerto Rico.
Also in the pool with with Canada is Haiti and Cuba.
“This the first development contact with this group of players outside of a wider identification camp,” said national team head coach Bev Priestman in a Canada Soccer press release.
Last March, Priestman led Canada’s u-17 women to a quarter-final appearance at the FIFA women’s World Cup. “It’s an opportunity to really assess the players selected for the future,” she added.
Two other players from B.C. were also named to the 18-player Canadian squad.
Canada will also take on Cuba on Saturday, before rounding out group play against Haition Aug. 11.
All three Mountain FC girls met in 2010 while at the TSS Academy and decided playing together would be the best thing.
It proved a smart move.
The girls played together at Cliff Avenue and the Burnaby Girls Soccer Club, where they eventually played Metro before moving up to Mountain FC in the high performance league.
“We definitely have a chemistry. It made me feel better knowing B.C. kids were there,” said 13-year-old Grosso of the identification camp in Toronto held in June.
“We were definitely used to playing with each other. It definitely helped me out,” said Regan, a 14-year-old Grade 9 Burnaby Central student, who was converted from midfield to the backfield for Canada’s national team.
“It’s a new position for me. I’m usually a central midfielder. But they converted me to fullback for the purposes of this team. It’s new and I can be really creative back there.”
“Iike her friends and teammates, Regan is super excited about the opportunity to wear Canada’s colours in a continental championship.
“It’s definitely going to be different. I’m excited about representing my country and it’s going to be really exciting to see how (other countries) play and what I can learn from those teams going forward.”
Off-field instruction has also been an eye-opener for the girls with Canada Soccer providing videos as part of the preparation.
“I think it’s been really helpful, especially with a new position,” Regan added.
Gomez Hernandez, a 14-year-old Pinetree Secondary student, is also eager to find her way in the fast-paced environment of international soccer.
“(Canada) likes a possession style – it’s really fast and sharp – you have to be thinking real quick, but they want you to be creative, too.
(Our head coach) really gets to us and inspires us. We all know what we have to do,” Gomez Hernadez added.
“It was crazy, I got the email in the middle of the night. It was a nice surprise to think that I was good enough to play on the national team and to keep going and play on the senior team when I’m older.”
“It’s great timing for us being 14 and also playing up with some (19)99s,” Regan added. “It’s being really helpful and I’m really excited about getting started.
But if the girls had their way, they’d prefer to continue their climb up the soccer ranks together.
“It would be sad to split up,” said Gomez Hernandez. “I hope we can stay together for a long time. But my goal is to come out a better player than when I went in.”