Janine Beckie, 23, and Jordyn Huitema, 16, represent the present and future of the Canadian women’s soccer team but their paths to the national squad couldn’t be more different.
Born and raised in Highlands Ranch, Colo., Beckie came up through the American soccer system. When she was released by the U.S. U-20 program, the Canadian Soccer Association swooped in.
Beckie was eligible to play for Canada due to her dual citizenship.
Her parents are Canadian and wearing the maple leaf was a proper way to honour her late father, who died of cancer when Beckie was just eight years old.
Beckie didn’t know what to expect walking into the Canadian locker room for the first time as she had such a different back story compared to the other women.
“I was sitting around watching the ’99 U.S. World Cup team win in L.A. — those are the memories that I have. I grew up in red, white, and blue — I didn’t grow up in red,” Beckie told CBC Sports.
Huitema is one of six teenagers from Canada Soccer’s EXCEL program who were named to the Canadian roster ahead of their home-and-away friendlies against the U.S. beginning on Thursday night (10 p.m. ET) at Vancouver at B.C. Place.
The program is a pipeline for the national squad bringing together the most talented youth players from across the country and progressively developing them through different age groups.
The Chilliwack, B.C., native represented Canada at almost every level before making her senior team debut this past March in the Algrave Cup final.
Her first junior appearance came at the 2014 CONCACAF Girls’ U-15 championship where Huitema scored the game-winner in the penalty shoot-out to give Canada the inaugural title.