Canada U-17 preparations underway with November camp in Portugal


Story by Richard Scott

A week into their November 2023 camp, Canada Soccer’s Women’s U-17 National Team have made important progress as they continue their early preparations for next year’s Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship. It’s an important window as the players get to come together and face their first experienced opponents in a two-match series with Portugal.

“It’s important that they spend time together, get to know each other, form partnerships, figure out how we operate and just build that Canadian identity,” said Emma Humphries, Canada Soccer’s Women’s U-17 Coach. “Good quality time together is important so that they can gel as a group.”

Canada have qualified for seven FIFA U-17 World Cups and they hope to make it eight when they compete in the 2024 Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship in Mexico with up to five matches from 2 to 11 February. Bringing the players together in November for this 11-day camp is an integral step in the group’s development. It’s all part of a Fall to Winter program in which the players are expected to peak in the Concacaf Semifinals and Final after group matches against Puerto Rico, Panama and USA.

“It’s been a really good camp and it’s just so important to get more time together ahead of the tournament next February,” said Humphries. “We also wanted to play a team (like Portugal) who have already played top teams, so it gives us a chance to figure out where we are as a group and how we compete against an experienced team.”

Canada’s first match was a Tuesday 2:0 loss to Portugal after a couple of mistakes in the back. Portugal scored both goals on interceptions by Cintia Martines in the first half before Canada missed a few terrific opportunities in the second half. Seventeen different Canadians featured in the match with Isabelle Chukwu selected as Canada’s Player of the Match. The second match will be played on Thursday 23 November.

Humphries said it was important that the young Canadians had a chance to learn from their mistakes and grow from the experience of playing youth international matches against a European opponent.

Since last year’s Concacaf Under-15 Championship in August 2022, Canada Soccer have dressed 29 different players born 2007 or later in national youth camps. The national pool is indeed bigger through players who feature in the National Development Centres across Canada, but most of Canada’s players are only at the start of their 2023-24 season after a late summer break.

Twenty-one players took part in the Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Qualifiers in late August when they qualified for the 2024 Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship. Canada had two matches in that 17-day window with back-to-back wins to eliminate both Dominica and Bermuda from the first qualification round on the road to the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Already for next year, Canada have qualified for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Colombia 2024. To qualify for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Dominican Republic 2024, Canada will need to finish top-two in their group and then win their Concacaf Semifinals match on Friday 9 February 2024. With hosts Dominican Republic already qualified, there are only two more spots for the FIFA U-17 World Cup up for grabs.