Olympic Women’s Soccer Starts Today!

Women’s soccer kicks off a few days before the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympics with games beginning this afternoon and continuing all the way through to the evening (the full schedule can be seen at the following – take note of the time difference, all games are one hour ahead of Canada’s EST time zone: Olympic Soccer Match Schedule).

Broadcast times and providers will be shifting throughout the tournament so some soccer matches will not be aired by CBC. For the group stage of the tournament, you’ll be able to watch the Canada WNT time at the following times and on the following stations:

  • First match on 3 Aug at 14:00 ET/11:00 PT on CBC against Australia.
  • Second match against Zimbabwe is on 6 Aug at 14:00 ET/11:00 PT on CBC.
  • Final group stage match against Germany 9 Aug at 15:00 ET/12:00 PT on Sportsnet.

Since many of these games are in the daytime, those with full-time jobs will have to do some maneuvering. However for those with some flexibility, a few fun local recommendations if you are planning on watching at a bar or restaurant:

  • Cafe Diplomatico, Little Italy – an Italian institution with a large patio and a dozen television screens so you can watch from any angle. Calzones are dynamite.
  • Football Factory, Queen St W – they’ve got every channel you can imagine, a great patio and an atmosphere that is soccer 100% of the time.
  • Bairrada Churrasqueira, College St W – a favourite amongst the Portuguese community. The patio is incredible and the food is simple and delicious. Cheap booze too.
  • Tall Boys, Christie Pits – good for evening and weekend games, this restaurant is a craft beer haven with double patty burgers and a hipster atmosphere.

Something else I want to draw to your attention to is the Women’s Basketball schedule. Games begin on Saturday with twelve teams competing for gold. The Canada Basketball Women’s Team is fresh off a gold medal at the Pan American Games (I went to that one! It was UNBELIEVABLE! They are a force. Beat the Americans easily). They also recently held a few exhibition matches against top tier opponents as a last minute tune up before the Olympics. Don’t be surprised to see them more and more in the news as they are a rising force in women’s basketball.

Groundswell: A Sport Movement is Happening in Toronto and the Feeling is Good

Last night I was driving back from the Niagara Region, having spent a couple of days out of town for celebratory reasons, and as per usual I was listening to sports on AM radio. I’m not sure how many folks across Canada, let alone in Toronto, would rather listen to sports on the radio then watch live, but I’ve found it less anxiety provoking. Moreover, the commentators are AWESOME!

At the beginning of the NBA playoffs, the few times I watched the Raptors-Pacers series I felt nauseous at what I was witnessing: terrible shooting, sloppy plays, bad decision-making, etc. The Raptors were getting their jinx/demons out but as a fan it made me ambivalent about being so committed to the franchise. However, after listening to their second half dismantling of the Miami Heat in Game 7 of Round 2, my ambivalence has subsided and I feel good about whatever happens here on in. This team has broken a number of major franchise records, and they are making the rest of the NBA (and the broadcasting landscape of the USA) pay attention and take them seriously.

There is a bigger sport movement going on in Toronto right now that is pushing all teams to be better, expect better, win Championships and rally their fans. When I was listening to the Raptors-Heat game last night, I took a few moments here and there to switch over the Toronto Blue Jays-Texas Rangers game, which was ridiculous (full coverage is here and a great Sportsnet analysis here). At the heart of what happened was Texas crying over spilled milk from last years Blue Jays playoff win. They didn’t, and still don’t like how the Jays play with pride, guts, big bats and no apologies. Well, too bad … that’s the kind of competitive edge you need at the professional level.

As the owner of the majority of professional sport franchises in the city (the Blue Jays are owned by Rogers), Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment has done a good job of investing in better leadership, coaching and talent over the last few years, and this is part of the reason why Toronto’s expectations and the appetite for sport has become insatiable. As Toronto FC continues to gel and improve, as the Toronto Argos settle into their new home at BMO Field, and as the Toronto Maple Leafs rebuild with one of the best coaches in the NHL, Toronto will be experiencing more thrilling games and successes, not to mention a Championship or two or three. I’m excited … how about you?

PS: Tomorrow, May 17, is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – honour, educate and celebrate accordingly!

PPS: Round 3 of the NBA playoffs begins tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. where the Raptors take on the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. Woohoo!

 

This Month: CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Soccer Qualifying

Starting on February 10, the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament kicks off, with Canada competing on February 11, 14 and 16 to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil. For those unfamiliar with CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), the Confederation’s primary functions are to organize competitions for national teams and clubs, and to conduct World Cup qualifying tournaments.

The roster John Herdman has put together for the tournament looks a little different then what was seen during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. There are a number of young and veteran players who will, I imagine, need time to truly gel as a cohesive squad. CONCACAF seems like one of the best ways for Herdman to inspire a shift in the make-up and leadership of the team. Which isn’t to say that Christine Sinclair, Erin McLeod, Diana Matheson and Sophie Schmidt (to name a few) haven’t been leaders throughout their trajectory with the National Team – but it is to congratulate Herdman on developing the program for the future, and not just for the present.

The full roster for the tournament can be dissected here, and if you notice, many players who have been long-standing substitutes and/or starters are no longer part of the core group. I, for one, am excited about this. There are MANY incredible, amazing players who have been overlooked at the National level for all of the typical reasons (politics, convention, strategy, bias), but perhaps those influences are finally falling a little to the wayside.

If you’re keen to catch some (or all) of Canada’s CONCACAF matches, you can stream all Group Stage Matches on CBC Sports. The Knock-Out Stage, Semi-Finals and Final of the tournament will be broadcast live on Sportsnet One. Exciting stuff. Go Big Red Go!