It’s been some months since Canada’s women’s soccer team was bounced from gold medal contention at the London Olympics with a controversial loss to the United States and the sting can still be felt by goalkeeper Erin McLeod.
“I do speeches all the time and I still cry when I get to that part about that game,” she said shortly before giving a clinic to young players with the Red Deer Soccer Association.
“But you know what, there’s something about that bitterness that we all carry that’s driving us forward and for that I’m very grateful because we got a bronze and we’re upset about it.”
The spotlight was on the team during those days in the summer and McLeod said the attention to the team and the sport is great but a little puzzling at the same time.
“It’s funny, we’ve been a top 10 team for a long time but now people are watching and tuning in and what ever their reasons I think it’s great,” she said. “But I also think it’s great we have young girls that have female role models and I think that’s one of the coolest things that has come out of this.”
She gives credit for the teams’ evolution to former coaches Even Pellerud and Caroline Morace who both had different styles which contributed to the success the women have had under John Herdman.
Pellerud had a kick and chase philosophy while Morace was more about possession, she said.
“Now we’re really focusing on tactics and we want to play like Barcelona, we want to keep possession, we want to be a more crafty team and I’m really looking forward to the future.”
She has spent the time since the gut-wrenching loss to the Americans traveling across the country, living out of a suitcase and she has seen registration for soccer increasing dramatically.
She passes along some credit in the soccer interest to the large TV audience glued to their sets during that dramatic game in England.
The fame from that game hasn’t exactly turned into fortune for her but she said she’s still enjoys being a part of the sport, playing with a women’s team in Chicago and is looking to do more coaching should the opportunity arise.
“I’m saving peanuts but you do what you can and you do it because you love it and all that other stuff comes,” she said.
She plans on staying with the game until the next Olympics down in Rio de Janeiro and along the way take part in the World Cup.
She gets plenty of enjoyment doing clinics like the one in Red Deer where she sees young players with that look in their eye, just like she had when she was their age.
“It’s the same, it’s that passion,” she said. “It’s just that fun and that enjoyment and that’s why I do it, to give back.”
She feels young players are looking up to them and in her view they’re making a good choice.
“I can speak for my team only but I’m very proud of the people I work with and I think we’re a successful team because we all have big hearts and we’re good people.”
One of those is Christine Sinclair, who McLeod describes as a very humble person who has won basically every award you can win at their level and she is viewed as a strong leader.
She said it’s an honour to be a teammate with a player who has scored more than 140 goals in her career.
“Yeah, it’s all right. I let her score on me every once in awhile.”