Sophie Schmidt has been a permanent fixture on the Canadian team for half a decade. The midfielder sits with over 130 appearances to her name since her senior debut in 2005. Her most successful year statistically was 2014, when she led the national squad in scoring with six goals.
The 26-year-old holds an impressive resume: an Olympic medal, a CONCACAF title, a Pan American gold and a solid career at the University of Portland. This June will mark her second Women’s World Cup appearance.
Off the pitch, she’s well-known for her creativity, traveling adventures and the time she spends with youngsters in soccer clinics and camps.
The Road to Canada 2015 interview series continues with Sophie Schmidt:
With the Women’s World Cup inching closer and closer, have the past four years gone by quick for you or has it felt slow?
Looking back, I think it’s gone by really quickly. I think four years out, it felt like it was really far away and now, we’re almost there. I feel like I’ve blinked and it’s here. It’s exciting. I’m also happy that it’s gone by quick though.
There have been changes over that time period with the team. The personnel is obviously different compared to 2011, but how is the team different as a whole?
We’ve kept growing and developing as players. We definitely have that experienced group of players that have had a lot of caps, so we’ve grown in that. We’ve also injected some youth in our team that wasn’t there before and just some energy in that sense. It’s been nearly four years since the Olympics and we’ve even grown so much structurally, our cohesiveness as a team and understanding what John [Herdman] wants us to do out on the pitch. We’ve grown our soccer knowledge and we’re able to play in a more cohesive-sense. I think we’re more complex. I’m excited to get it all out and start playing so everyone can see the hard work we’ve put in over the past four years.
You mentioned the younger generation and a couple of those players are lineup regulars now. What can you tell us about those youngsters who have come through the pipeline?
They’re just phenomenal. It’s a huge compliment to Canada Soccer that there are young players coming through. They’ve been inspired by the likes of Christine Sinclair and Diana Matheson. They’re just phenomenal. The fact that they can contribute at the age of 16, 17, 18 is huge. It’s only going to make soccer in Canada even stronger moving forward. I’m just excited by what they have to offer. This is the first time most of Canada will see them. I think it’s going to be a huge learning curve for them, but I love playing beside them because they have nothing holding them back. They have nothing but passion for the game. It’s great.
You’ve taken more of a leadership role with the team. Do you find yourself being more vocal or are you someone who leads by example?
To tell you the truth, it’s hard to say at this very moment. I’m not very outspoken in that sense. I try to lead by example on the field. We have a lot of those personalities on the team that can lead by example. I’ve embraced the role that I do need to be more vocal and set the standard in that sense. I’m trying to embrace it even though it’s out of my comfort zone, but it’s something the team needs moving forward. It’s a challenge for me, but I enjoy the role. I definitely am not the Christine Sinclair, Karina LeBlanc or Erin McLeod who is that known leader. I do try to lead in little ways, so I can feel my impact on the team.
How has your game changed in the past for years when you compare yourself to the Sophie Schmidt of 2011?
I think I’m more of a complete soccer player in terms of being able to put out more. I can run longer, faster, so I’ve changed physically. That’s really helped my game out a lot. I also have more composure on the ball. I have more of a mental edge now thanks to all of the experiences of what needs to be done in certain situations, like how to help my team get out of stressful situations or just keep us calm. I know myself more and I know what I need to do to impact a game by taking secrets and tips I’ve learnt over the years.
Has it hit you yet that this tournament is actually taking place in Canada?
Not fully. I’m starting to see snippets of the excitement that have been building up heading to the Women’s World Cup. I think we’re going to get blown away by how big this thing will actually be in June. It means so much. As an athlete, you rarely get to play in your home country for the World Cup with your friends and family there watching. It just adds to the honour of it all. You play for Canada and there’s so much pride in that and putting on that jersey. To be able to do it at home is something completely different and it’s almost indescribable. I think once we’re in it and once it’s passed it’ll be, “Wow! That was special!”. I think it may be the highlight of a lot of our careers. The opportunity to play at home is something so special.
You’re a bit of a budding filmmaker. What’s piqued your interest in moviemaking?
I really enjoy watching small films and little documentaries. After London, we started to fall of the map and I said “Man, there’s this little niche who are really interested in what we do and they really care about our team.” For big stints of the year, people don’t get to see what we do and what we do when we’re not on the soccer field. I really do enjoy making these videos, editing them, stuff like that. I just thought “Hey, why not share this with the public?”. It gives them a little fly on the wall into our lives off the field and kind of what happens. I just try to keep the fans engaged throughout the little downtimes in between tournaments and I’ve had a great response. It’s just something fun and it keeps me busy when I’m not playing soccer.
What can we expect to see in the future? Perhaps a long feature documentary?
I have no idea! People help feed me with ideas on the team saying “you should do this and you should do this”. I don’t know about anything long because that takes a lot of editing. I’m not quite there yet in my director career yet!