When Canada forward Melissa Tancredi sets out on a goal she sticks to it. In many ways the 33-year-old’s work ethic and commitment perfectly embodies that of the Canucks with their unwavering spirit and will to come out on top regardless of the odds.
Never one to take a backwards step on the field, Tancredi’s forceful and robust style once earned her the nickname ‘Tank’. Tancredi has been a fixture of the side for well over ten years despite a litany of serious injuries that would have halted a lesser character. The long-serving international striker has somehow managed to become a fully qualified chiropractor, despite the level of commitment required to maintain a glittering playing career that has now included three FIFA Women’s World Cups™ and two Olympic Football Tournaments. A three-and-a-half-year course was elongated to a massive eight years of juggling both study and football.
A full-time role in her chosen field is a future chapter yet to be written in the Tancredi odyssey. For now - as has been the case for the past year or so - the sole focus has been building for the unique experience that is a World Cup played at home.
Canada have a foot in the knockout stage after an opening 1-0 win against China PR and a tense scoreless stalemate against New Zealand on Thursday. And Tancredi says the team are finding the home support a massive boost. “The crowd does nothing but help us.” Tancredi told FIFA.com after the match. “I think we deal with it well [distractions]. First game jitters were always going to be there but we are through it.
“It has been great and I love hearing that crowd. It feels so different. It is just great to have that and we hope it continues in Montreal and when you hear the chants, it pushes you that bit extra.”
Canucks' change of scenery
With two bumper crowds in Edmonton and saturation media coverage, did Tancredi ever imagine she have such experiences on home soil? “This is honestly a dream for me,” Tancredi says with the kind of appreciation that only a player who has seen the highs of lows of football can fully understand. “At the end of my career to be at a World Cup at home is pretty insane, and I want to make the most of it and enjoy the journey as much as possible.”
Now Canada head across the country to French-speaking Montreal and a concluding Group A contest against the Netherlands where a win would guarantee top spot. “Having a new environment and new surroundings, and to have another city welcome us will bring new life for us,” Tancredi says.
The challenge on the field for Canada will be to start scoring. The Canucks have just Christine Sinclair's injury-time winner against China to show for their exertions thus far. But Tancredi is emphatic about what they need to work on. “I think trying to be less direct and finding a way to play out [is the goal],” she says. “That would be massive in taking control of a game. We need to impose our rhythm and tempo.
“They [Netherlands] have pace up front and are very disciplined tactically. We had a shift [in approach] from last game to this [New Zealand] game of getting into dangerous positions. I think we did that, it is just a case of putting those chances away. We will go into with a positive attitude.”
Positivity has taken Tancredi far already on the field and she says an athletes’ approach has helped her achieve study success. “Being an athlete you need to be disciplined and prioritising your time and goal-setting and has helped me out,” Tancredi said. “I always wanted to be top of my class. That competitive side of me never goes away.”
Tancredi admits her career is now in its twilight stage, though she hopes to be around for the next Olympic Games campaign. Maybe, however, Tancredi will be around at future Women’s World Cups with the Canadians as a member of team staff. “I would absolutely love to be part of something like this in the future.”