Ahead of the 15th edition of the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup taking place in Spain and the Netherlands (1-17 July), we’re conducting a series of exclusive interviews with the participating teams. Today: Natalie Sourisseau (CAN).
Canada is back in the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup after 28 years. What an accomplishment! How do you feel about that?
Great obviously! It was a pretty amazing accomplishment for us and it's sometimes easy to forget about it. I feel like day-to-day right now because we're just training. But even just having you say that, or having a conversation about it with family and friends, it brings back some of the emotions that were attached to that day into qualifying and really about not just that day or recent success but the hard work of so many years to try to move the program forward to be where it is today. So definitely I'm super proud, not only of the team now but of all the girls in the past who put in the work to get us to where we are today.
Let's make a quick step back. We're end of January in Chile, you’re about to have this game which will decide your fate for this World Cup. What do you remember from this day?
It was a bit of a different tournament for us in in general because of course COVID makes it different for everybody and the Omicron variant was just sort of in a surge in Canada right before we left. So we didn't train for weeks leading up to the tournament and some of us had to come late because they weren't over their COVID. It was just a stressful time in general. It was snowing in Canada so we couldn't train for that reason as well and I think we came into the tournament maybe a little bit shaky and nervous and hadn’t played in quite some time. And we had lost to the USA in the Pool play which was not what we expected or wanted. In the end, we ended up having to play the USA for the berth of the World Cup. But, over the course of the tournament, we grew and we stuck together as a team. In that final match, it was kind of maybe less pressure than I felt in other games. As a team, we wanted to go out there, give our best, stick together and have no regrets. We started really well. It was only a 1-0 game so even after we went up, it was close and of course the US came at us again and again and we had to weather this storm. But yes, we were really happy to get the result that we did and so proud of each other and ourselves. We had a very great time that night celebrating the accomplishment!
Looking at the history of Canada in the World Cup, your team actually won a silver medal in 1983 and three years later a bronze medal. Can these results in some way inspire you?
Definitely. We obviously don't know many of the people that were at those events. Some of the alumni from that age we do have connections with, but they show that it's possible to be at the top of the world stage and even though it's been quite some time, I think we can still draw inspiration from that team who's done it before.
What are your expectations as a team for the upcoming World Cup?
To be honest we haven't spoken about specific goals or expectations or what place that we want to finish or anything like that. I think it's going to be a really great tournament because it's just a chance to showcase ourselves and showcase our team. Unlike a lot of the other major tournaments we play in, it's not a qualifying tournament, it’s a final event. I hope that we can just have fun, enjoy playing against the top teams in the world, come show what we can bring, show that we can play with these teams and we definitely want to make the quarterfinals for sure. Then - and even before the quarterfinals - it's game by game and we're just focused on every game and getting the outcome that we need in that game.
Looking at the Pool you're in, you will play Argentina, Korea and the hosts, Spain. How do you look at each of these teams?
Our first game is against Spain. It's the opener of the tournament, in Spain, and it's actually on Canada day, the day that we celebrate our country! So that's going to be a pretty special game for us! We always have great games against Spain. They're a really fast and skilled team. We've played in Spain against Spain quite a number of times before and they always have a really great atmosphere. So, I think that will be a really exciting game.
Korea, I have only seen once in my career. They'll be a little bit of an unknown to us. We’ve some ideas of how they might play but I think that we can definitely have a great game against them and we're looking forward to that one for sure.
Finally, Argentina. We play them quite a bit. They're obviously a really great team. In the Pan Am Cup, we did well to sort of stop them from what they were trying to do and for a long time we held the score to 0-0, but I think in Spain we need to look to figure out how we can actually generate more offense against them because the game is not all about defense. But they're really exciting to play against and it's one of my favorite teams to play against because they're so skilled and it's a challenge. So, we're looking forward to that for sure.
Any message you would like to give to your fans?
I just want to say thank you to everyone, mostly in Canada, but also in our communities. We've had to actually self-raise a lot of money in order to go to the World Cup, in order to go early to get some matches in before we play and we've had such an amazing amount of overwhelming support from not only our family and friends but businesses in the community. Kids that have come out to our camps that we're running. That was awesome for us and so motivating. We just want to say thank you to everyone for that support!