Business or Pleasure?
When traveling with the national team I always check “business” as the purpose of my visit on my customs forms. Not because I don’t enjoy these trips- don’t get me wrong, I love having the opportunity to travel to such cool places and play the game I love with some of my closest friends. But at the end of the day- we’re not here for a vacation. This is our job, our livelihood. And while its not ALL work and NO play, it’s definitely A LOT of work.
Our schedule on an average day involves waking up around 8:00am, breakfast, a morning training session, lunch, maybe a quick afternoon nap, another training session, dinner, treatment for any injuries or knocks and then we’re in bed before 11:30. About once a week we’ll get an afternoon, and sometimes if we’re lucky a whole day off. But after 6 days of non-stop training we’re usually spending this time recovering.
There have been many situations where we’ve traveled to some pretty cool places and only seen the airport, the hotel, and the stadium before getting back on the plane to come home. Once in a while we’ll have a day where the whole team takes an afternoon to explore a major tourist attraction. In China it was the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square. In Rio it was Christ the Redeemer. In Rome we saw The Coliseum and The Vatican City and here in Mexico the Mayan Ruins were the big attraction. These are always pretty fun activities, but they’re usually organized on a very tight schedule. We’re given a few hours on our own before we have to be back on the bus to head back to the hotel for dinner.
Every meal we eat is prepared at the hotel and it’s always a set menu. Whether we’re in Japan, France, Thailand, Mexico, or the U.S – the food for us is always the same. Exploring and testing the local fare is never an option when you’re training or preparing for a tournament. Indulging in a dish off a food cart on the street in Bangkok is not worth the risk of getting sick and not being able to play. As much as I like to daydream about living Anthony Bourdain’s lifestyle – traveling around the world, experiencing so many different cultures through their food – I don’t. We travel for one reason and that’s to play soccer.
We’ve been in Cancun, Mexico for almost 3 weeks now and we’ve had the same thing at breakfast, lunch and dinner-every day. Mexican is one of my favorite types of food. There’s nothing better than authentic Guacamole and fresh Pico de gallo! But Pasta, rice, steamed vegetables, chicken or fish (I opt for the vegan options in this case), and potatoes have basically made up the menu here for us since day one. We’re all beyond sick of the food, but we know it’s necessary. No margaritas on the beach for us!
And speaking of the beach… it’s very rare that we show up to training camp to find out that we’re staying at a resort on the beach. We’re usually at the hotel closest to the stadium, or at whatever hotel chain happens to be sponsoring the event. Logistics and convenience are always the main priority. But when a tournament is held in a vacation hot spot like Cancun, I guess there’s no way of avoiding it – every hotel here is a resort! When we rolled up to our hotel here I honestly though there was a mistake and our bus driver had taken a wrong turn somewhere. This is literally paradise.
We definitely lucked out this time and we know it. It’s a little bit of a tease waking up and looking out your window at the waves crashing on the beach, knowing that you can’t go in the sun because you need to rest up for a training session or game later that day. But we’re definitely not complaining – even if we only get to enjoy the view. We’ve stayed in some pretty dodgy places over the years (Olympic Qualifying in 2008 was in Juarez, Mexico, the murder capital of the world. Google it – that place is crazy!) Needless to say, we’re all very grateful to be staying in Cancun right now.
It’s been almost non-stop preparations for this tournament since August. We’ve trained and competed in Italy, Germany, at home in Canada, and now Mexico. We’ve been together as a team for over two months straight and finally the first game of the tournament is here. We’re all very excited to get the tournament underway tomorrow when we play Trinidad and Tobago. We’re going to take this one game at a time, but we definitely have our sights set on getting to that championship game and qualifying for another World Cup
Below is a link to the schedule of our games being aired in Canada on CBC. Please tune in- Your support means the world to us!
Let’s Go Canada!