Olympic women's soccer qualifying: Canada united despite age disparity
Team manages to find common ground
For a team that has players ranging in age from 16 to 34, Canada's women's soccer team is a group that spans the generations of the sport.
On the field, the team has a singular vision and that's a spot at the 2016 Olympic Games, with qualifying getting started on Thursday against Guyana (CBCSports.ca, CBC Sports app, 8:30 p.m. ET).
Off the field, there's an interesting dynamic with the variety of ages causing plenty of social confusion.
"Sometimes Rhian [Wilkinson] talks about her mortgage and I have no idea about that," said forward Deanne Rose, at 16 the youngest on the roster. "That kind of grown-up stuff that they talk about, I don't know."
While the senior players have grown-up obligations off the field that may crop up in discussions, it generally doesn't last for long.
The hallmark of this Canadian squad is a united group on and off the field that genuinely enjoys each other's company and manages to find common ground. They've managed to make it easier to integrate and find an inter-generational connection.
"We're pretty immature so it's not as big a gap as you'd think between the ages," Wilkinson said with a laugh after training concluded on Wednesday in Houston.
Wilkinson made her debut with the national team in 2003 when Rose was just six years old.
'Be a tight group'
"They're really easy to talk to and mingle with and have fun with, which is the main part. When we're not on the field we want to have fun and be a tight group and they really fit in right from the start."
There is a perk for a player like Rose, who still has to manage her studies while worrying about helping get her team back to the Olympics.
Rose is one of three high school aged players on the team alongside Gabrielle Carle and Jessie Fleming. Those players have designated study times during the day while in camp and if they're ever stuck and have questions, there are plenty of people to turn to for help.
"A lot of the times they're doing their high school exams or papers and they'll come in and ask questions and we have to sort of dredge it out of our memory from when we did it," said Wilkinson. "And we try not to talk about when we were born that would date us too badly so we don't scare them or shock them too badly and they do a good job hiding it."
Rose is the youngest player on the team and made her senior debut late last year in a tournament in Brazil.
As if that wasn't enough of a surreal experience, she assisted on a goal against Trinidad and Tobago scored by none other than Diana Matheson, the hero of the bronze medal game against France at the 2012 Olympics in London.
"It's still a little bit of a shock," said Rose. "Just a few months ago, I was watching them in the World Cup and still fan girling over them and now I'm playing with them, it's a little overwhelming sometimes."