Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema will have a new coach with Canada’s national womens’ soccer team, but it’s a familiar face.
Canada Soccer announced the hiring of Bev Priestman Wednesday morning.
Priestman spent 2013-18 as an assistant coach under former national team coach John Herdman, and would have been on the scene for Huitema’s earliest appearances with the national squad.
She takes over now for Herdman’s successor, Kenneth Heimer-Moller. He resigned at the end of the summer, taking a job as Head of Coach Education in the Danish Football Association.
Priestman currently resides in England where she was an assistant coach with that country’s national womens’ team. Along with head coach Phil Neville, she helped guide England to a fourth place finish at least year’s FIFA Womens’ World Cup in Tokyo.
She also served as coach of England’s women’s U18 team that was supposed to compete in the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in India.
That tournament was pushed back to 2021 due to COVID-19.
Priestman has long been laser-focused on taking a head-coaching role, and now she’s got it.
“When I went to England, I always said from Day 1 that I wanted to be a No. 1,” she told The Canadian Press. “And so this is part of that jigsaw piece.
“For me, it (Canada) is a top-10 nation, two (Olympic) bronze medals, the scrutiny and expectations you get with that. What I’ve learned about myself is probably you get the best out of me in those moments.”
The 34 year old doesn’t have much time to settle in.
Her team is due to participate in the rescheduled Summer Olympics, next July in Tokyo and the Canadians haven’t played a game since March.
Looking at the current Canadian roster, Priestman sees a “brilliant blend of experience and youth.” She knows there is little room to manoeuvre short-term with COVID-19 restrictions, not to mention the limitations of an 18-woman Olympic roster.
“You have a short-term focus due to COVID and the Olympics and hopefully change the colour of the medal. And then you have a longer-term focus.”
That includes a changing of the guard.
“My job is to make that transition really easy with the young players and get that blend right at the right time.”
– With files from the Canadian press
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