Dalhousie University Tigers women’s soccer coach Cindy Tye and midfielder Inari Moore had the honour of taking part in the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic, which took place from Feb. 25 to March 12.
The tournament was supposed to be held in 2021 but was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It resumed this year, featuring the best from the North and Central American regions, as well as Caribbean nations.
Tye is the Canadian national team’s U-20 head coach.
“It was a long couple of years for all athletes,” Tye said. “I was with the [U-17s] in 2019 and, after a couple years away and understanding that we missed an opportunity at the [2021 U-17] World Cup with the 17s because of COVID, staying with the same group of kids and trying to get them across the line for the 20s was something that I wanted, to support them.”
Tye said, “I mean, this is a group that would have missed out on the Under-17 qualifying and a [U-17] World Cup. So, they missed a whole cycle.”
COVID-19 also affected the team during the training this year. But fortunately, the team managed to work through these setbacks.
“Of the 20 kids that had arrived, a couple were impacted by COVID during camp. But we were able to keep everybody safe and well during the tournament and we feel fortunate for that,” Tye said.
Inari Moore represented Guyana in the tournament and scored a goal in their last game against Haiti.
Guyana ended up being eliminated in the round of 16 of the championship, but Moore still found the experience a positive one.
“It was really cool to see different styles of play,” she said. “I think in the AUS [Atlantic University Sport] you’re used to a type of soccer that I didn’t see at the tournament, so there was a lot of learning how different teams play.”
World Cup berth for Canada
Canada’s team was one of the top competitors expected to participate in the championship, alongside Mexico and the United States. The top three finishers in the tournament would qualify for the 2022 FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup. That tournament is scheduled for this August in Costa Rica.
The United States finished in first place, Mexico in second and Canada in third. The Canadians snagged the final CONCACAF spot in the World Cup after defeating Puerto Rico in the bronze medal game.
“We were hoping to qualify after our semifinal, but we were beaten out by Mexico,” Tye said. “The kids were pretty disappointed by that. They felt they wanted to go through that way, but regardless they bounced back and won the bronze and they’re feeling really good after that part.”
With Tye and Moore both at the tournament, the Dal coach of five seasons said the Tigers can gain a lot from the national experience.
“I really appreciate being here at Dalhousie and the support they’ve given me through this, and now coming back to try to make us better,” Tye said.
Busy but memorable experience
Besides practicing against different styles of play, Moore had to adapt quickly to the playing style of her own team.
“There are camps we do in Toronto and in Guyana. So, you do get to know your players,” Moore said. “But we do have to mesh really quickly because you don’t get to play with the girls across international borders.”
Another challenge Moore had to face was the fact that the tournament happened in the middle of the semester.
“I got a little bit lucky because reading week was one of the weeks I was down there,” Moore said. “A lot of the time I actually couldn’t get back to the hotel before deadlines, but I talked to my professors before and after, so that was actually really good and I’m caught up now.”
Moore enjoyed the busy atmosphere and being immersed in the sport despite the difficulties of playing during classes.
“Our schedule was really, really crazy,” she said. “But everyone was very present, which is something we sometimes don’t have here. The girls had so much passion and willingness. They were so eager to play soccer. I really love that energy. I think we do have some of that here at Dal, but I’d like to bring some of that back too.”