Defender Zadorsky eyes spot with Canadian team

Shelina Zadorsky, left, in action for Canada as last summer's Pan Am Games (Peter Power/CP)

She’s suited up professionally in Sweden and Australia. Now, defender Shelina Zadorsky is looking to become a mainstay for the Canadian women’s team.

Zadorsky, from London, Ont., is ambidextrous, with extensive experience both as a central defender and as a fullback. Her versatility was on full display last summer when she suited up for the under-23v team and netted a brace in Canada’s victory against Ecuador at the Pan Am Games.

Her most recent action for the senior squad came during December’s four-nation tournament in Natal, Brazil.

Sportsnet caught up with the 23-year-old Zadorsky in between training sessions with the senior women’s team in Vancouver.

What’s your approach with regards to roster spot openings on the senior team, especially on that back line? How do you show your game ahead of the Olympic qualifying tournament in February?
It’s exciting being a centre-back and knowing that you can take on that leadership role, no matter what age you are. I think trying to show that day in and day out, both on and off the field, with a lot of communication and learning from the players around me. It’s also about showing that I can fit in with those players.

Catch us up with what you’ve been doing since your first senior appearance in January of 2013 and now.
It’s been a great couple of years just learning and growing in professional environments. I went from Australia to Sweden and recently getting that opportunity at the Pan Am Games. Just all those opportunities and all those learning experiences have helped me grow as a player. Now, it’s really great to be back with the [senior] squad in this environment.


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How do you think your time in Australia and Sweden prepared you for the national team? You played alongside a lot of skilled players who have plenty of experience on the international stage.
Definitely. I played alongside a lot of Australian national team members and then to some other international stars in Sweden. Then I played against the likes of Ramona Bachmann and Marta in [the Swedish league]. Those are great learning experiences and they’re high-level games to be involved in.

Looking at the current national roster, you’re not one of the youngsters, but you’re not a veteran either. How do you find your place?
It’s a lot of fun being in the middle because you gel with both ends of the spectrum. It’s great learning from veteran players, especially with things like how they approach the game, and not only on the field, but how they carry themselves off the field. It’s that level of professionalism. I get to see that day in and day out.

With our incredible coaching staff, there are so many things we do to not only grow as a player, but also a person. That’s been great. With those young, fresh faces who have a lot of energy, they have a lot of new things to add to the team. I can learn from both of those age groups.

You mention that work off the pitch. What does the team focus on away from the field?
A lot of it is mental training and visualization and really honing in on your identity as a player and as a team.

You’ve played both fullback and centre-back. What’s your preference?
Throughout the camps, we’ve focusing on the centre-back role for me. That’s been the main focus.

Is there a defender out there, maybe Canadian or even from another team, whose style you like to emulate?
Wow. That’s a great question. It’s got to be a leftie out there, because I think that’s something I can bring to the game with my left foot. I truthfully can’t think of an exact player, but I definitely want to be seen as a strong leftie.