The Huskies women’s soccer team will be kicking around during their cancelled season, with a focus on growing and persevering through the pandemic as a team.
On June 8, two of the most prestigious Canadian university athletic conferences cancelled their 2020-21 Fall Term team sports due to COVID-19. Canada West will not be holding its competitive conferences for football and soccer, among others, while U SPORTS’s cancellations included cross country, soccer and football championships.
Jerson Barandica-Hamilton, head coach of the Huskies women’s soccer team, says he was shocked by the cancellation.
“It was definitely tough,” Barandica-Hamilton said. “I don’t think it was fully expected, but I think that we were also realistic [that] it could be a possibility.”
The women’s soccer team has been working hard for the past two years, growing to be a “good core group of players.” Barandica-Hamilton says that the team finished the 2019-20 season excited about where they were, making the cancelled season tougher to accept.
“In our opinion, we had a really good chance of being very successful [this year],” Barandica-Hamilton said.
The team plans to carry this mindset of achieving success into the next year. Barandica-Hamilton says that although this season is on pause, it’s going to be an “opportunity to get even better.”
“We have the opportunity to actually analyze how things have been done and maybe create better solutions, be it from competition to awareness, promotion … [or] being in the community, so that when we come back we have better attendances, the quality keeps growing [and] there are better opportunities for players,” Barandica-Hamilton said.
Despite the ongoing pandemic and the concerns it brings to team sports, recruiting has not been an issue for the team. The Huskies women’s soccer is already in a position where 95 per cent of their roster is finalized, according to Barandica-Hamilton. He says that they will recruit more athletes next year as some of the current players may have graduated by that point.
The women’s soccer team will continue to train hard, practicing three times a week and playing against themselves to assess individual and team performance. Moving forward, Barandica-Hamilton says that this will hopefully not be the only way to evaluate their progress.
“We are hoping that we get the approval to play non-conference friendlies versus the University of Regina or local women’s teams to provide a different opponent and platform for our players to prepare,” Barandica-Hamilton said in an email to the Sheaf.
As for next year, Barandica-Hamilton looks forward to seeing not only the development of the team but also the continued growth of support from students and the general community.
“We hope that people appreciate what sport can bring for both the university and our campus life,” Barandica-Hamilton said.
“Hopefully when we come back, we see a lot of fans in the stands supporting our program and just giving a lot of these players the support that obviously they’ve [lacked] without having a season.”
J.C. Balicanta Narag | Editor-in-Chief
Photos: Ammara Syeda | Photo Editor