During a recent media day, John Herdman shared a pivotal moment in his coaching career with Canada. He flashed back to the 2012 Olympic bronze medal match against France and recalled hearing Carmelina Moscato say, “I’m not giving up”, to which fellow defender Rhian Wilkinson replied, “neither am I”.
Canada would go on to capture that historic Olympic medal and Carmelina was instrumental in helping the team achieve that spot on the podium. Not only did she play every minute of every match at London 2012, she provided leadership and stability on a backline that was severely depleted due to significant injuries.
June will mark her third Women’s World Cup appearance and there, she’ll be able to provide that same dependability and leadership.
Our Road to Canada 2015 interview series continues with centre back Carmelina Moscato:
Here we are. It’s officially going to be World Cup number three for you. How does it feel?
Hard to believe and surreal. It’s weird. The way the World Cups have gone for me has been a little bit odd. As a really young teenager, I barely made a 2003 roster and I actually came off a stress fracture that year and I didn’t think I was in the running. I got to experience just being there and I got one minute in that World Cup. As it stands today, I’ve had one minute in a World Cup. So, this is crazy. I’ve come a long away. This team has come a long way. I feel like a different human in a sense that after 12 years of investment my third one has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s just crazy. The 2011 one, I’ve blocked it out of my memory for a couple of reasons, but it’s also been a catalyst to why we are where we are.
You mentioned 2011. What do you think is the biggest difference over the past four years? I realize it’s a different coach and different variables, but what stands out most?
I think it’s just that maturity and experience now. I think that in life as in soccer, when you hit your rock bottom, there’s only one way to go and that’s up. I think John was an incredible hire for this program. He’s come in and re-inspired us as people more so than soccer players. It’s translated naturally, but he really got us back to our core and our passion. He allowed us to understand why we play the game and I think once you get back to your purpose, everything else seems a little bit clearer. With that being said, he’s not only come in, but he’s inspired us with his vision of what it means to be a Canadian. This guy isn’t even from here and he comes in wants to know what it means to be Canadian. I feel like he’s prouder to be Canadian than some people you’ll meet. Not only that, but the brand of football and the level of detail he’s able to coach with has made the game easy for us. It’s taken three years to unlearn. Before that, it was a decade of work and Carolina [Morace] was a perfect transition for us. We went from a direct style, that Norwegian-Scandinavian style of play, to the other end of the spectrum with a possession-style of play. We had lost our grit, our Canadianism. John has really been this hybrid of both. It’s been really cool to see old players learn some new, modern tricks of the trade for their position. He continues to set the bar as high as possible.
Does that include you? Has your game changed in the past four years?
Tremendously. I think if you would’ve watched me in the Carolina-era, I was a very nervous player. I had a good skill set, but I was never confident. There was a mindset I was missing for many reasons. It had nothing to do with Carolina necessarily. It was me. I’ll take responsibility for that. With John, he’s really outlined our roles. I no longer take things personally. For example, a centre back on our team has to execute X Y and Z. Now it’s about me fulfilling a job requirement, as opposed to “Carm’s good” or “Carm’s bad”. Then I can measure and find out if I’m up to the standard for this team. It’s really reversed how I look at this job. It’s a job as well as a passion. I would say he’s changed the way I look at the game. I’m now very calm with the ball because I’m starting to trust myself. It’s taken a very long time to get here. I’m very grateful for that.
This must be such an exciting time for your parents and the fact they have a daughter who is going to play in a World Cup in her home country. What does this mean to the Moscato family?
I would even throw my brother into that because he started coaching me at the age of 10. He took on my club team, actually with Robyn Gayle and I, up until 17 years old. He, literally and figuratively, developed me as a footballer. I think for him, to have this in Canada, for his family and his kids – and that goes for my whole family by the way – but specifically my brother, it’s a proud moment that I know he’s been looking forward to since we got the bid. I know it means the world to them. They’ll be happy whether I play every minute or that I’m just part of the squad. They’ve always kept the perspective for me where it’s not about ego. They’re big on that. It’s about being the best teammate.
Speaking of Robyn, you have some history with her, Erin McLeod and Christine Sinclair. You’re all part of that memorable 2002 U-19 group. You guys have really come full circle, haven’t you?
It’s very poetic. That’s the word I use. For us to start and end – not to say ended because there’s one more to go – but yeah, in terms of a World Cup cycle, it doesn’t get much better than that. I don’t know how many other players in the world can say that’s the way it’s gone for them. We lost that final to the US and got that silver back in 2002 as little teenagers and it seems really fitting that we get another opportunity. In light of the Olympics, the semi-final match versus the US there, we just want another dig.
What kind of legacy do you and the girls want to leave once this 2015 tournament is in the books?
It’s multi-layered. For us, it’s a legacy of achievement. We do this to try and win this thing, but that’s not all we focus on obviously. All of the work we’ve put in, all of the time, all of the sacrifices, all of the passion and it’s about inspiring a nation. We saw what London did. We saw how we brought people together. These people who literally had never watched a soccer game in their entire life and they were just amazed by what good Canadians we were on that day. I mean in general and just the way we fought for our country. We have a hero right in our backyard with Sinclair. I think we know that it inspired people to not only play the sport because yeah, that’s a byproduct. I think it made people proud of Canadian athletes. I think once they see this team as one of the most connected and resilient with what we’re going to do on that pitch, we hope that it’s going to inspire people to do the best in whatever they decide to do with their lives.
Make sure to follow Carmelina on Twitter. A big thanks to her for taking the time to chat.