Nichelle Prince’s place in the squad for the upcoming International Soccer Federation (FIFA) Under-20 World Cup in Canada was never in doubt.
But to actually hear her name announced was quite fulfilling for the striker who made her senior debut in the Four Nations Women’s Championship in China in January 2013, coming off the bench to score against South Korea.
“Of course, I am always thrilled when I am selected to play for my country,” she said shortly after the 21-member roster was unveiled last week at an early morning press conference a few hours before the squad departed for a two-match series in Mexico. “And to be playing at home in the presence of family and friends is going to be quite satisfying.”
Canada, which is in Group “A” of the 16-team tournament, faces Ghana and Finland at BMO Field on August 5 and 8 before travelling to Montreal to meet the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on August 12.
The daughter of a Jamaican father and American mother, Prince is one of three players of Jamaican heritage on the national squad.
Dynamic centre back Kadeisha Buchanan’s parents migrated from the Caribbean country and defender Jordane Carvery’s mother was born in Jamaica.
The youngest of seven girls raised by their mother, 18-year-old Buchanan – who attends West Virginia University – scored her first international goal against the United States in Manitoba last May.
A graduate of Bill Crothers Secondary School, Carvery has been a member of the national youth program since 2011.
The squad also includes 2013 Female Under-17 Player of the Year Sura Yekka and Ashley Lawrence, who was Canada’s top female youth player in 2011 and 2012.
A student at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secondary School in Mississauga, Yekka made her senior team appearance last October in exhibition matches against South Korea and Mexico in Edmonton.
The promising fullback’s mother represented Uganda in the 800 and 1,500-metre events at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Lawrence was a member of the national youth team that took part in the FIFA Under-17 tournament in Trinidad & Tobago four years ago and the 2012 Under-17 side that captured a silver medal at the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Soccer Federation (CONCACAF) tournament in Guatemala.
She also represented Canada at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Azerbaijan two years ago.
This is the second time that Canada is hosting a women’s youth World Cup.
In 2002, the national team succumbed 1-0 to the United States in a thrilling final in front of nearly 48,000 spectators at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
The United States and Germany have dominated the Under-20 competition, winning five of the six previous championships. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea clinched the title eight years ago.
This year’s tournament runs from August 5-24 in Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal and Toronto.
By RON FANFAIR