A Dream Deferred: Coming of age at Old Trafford

Canada’s hopes for its first Olympic medal in women’s football were not dashed yesterday in the place legendary English footballer Bobby Charlton once called the ‘Theater of Dreams’. They were merely deferred until Thursday, when they meet France in the bronze medal game.

At historic Old Trafford in Manchester England yesterday, Canada’s Olympic Women’s soccer team and program came of age. This was far from the team that four years ago in Beijing was dominated and embarrassed by a technically and physically superior American squad, only to make an early exit from tournament play.

This is a team that more than matched the USA in every facet of the beautiful game. In a little over a year, coach John Herdman has shaped the Canadians into a leaner, fitter and more technically profficient squad.

Indeed, led by the remarkable three-goal performance of gritty captain Christine Sinclair and the punishing tackles of power forward Melissa Tancredi, the Canadian team looked like it was only minutes from earning a birth into the gold medal match against Japan.

Then, in a matter of a few moments, two bizarre calls by the Norwegian referee in front of the Canadian goal (indirect free kick on the edge of the penalty box and a penalty kick) at a critical time in the match, determined the final outcome.

No one can deny the fact that the Canadians more than held their own in this grueling match. Millions around the globe witnessed their physical tenacity, endurance and mental toughness.

Hold your heads high ladies. The state of the Canadian Olympic women’s football program is alive and stronger than ever now. The will, faith and character of its players and coach unshakable. Its fans, unbelievably proud. And absolutely nothing can take that away from you.

Photo credit: http://www.komonews.com