Zurrer named to Olympic soccer squad
Hard work and persistence paid off for valley soccer star Emily Zurrer with the announcement Monday she's on the 18-member Canadian women's soccer squad going to London for the Summer Olympics next month.
Zurrer, who turns 25 July 12, will be going to her second Olympic Games after also playing on the team four years ago in Beijing.
"I'm so excited and honoured to be able to represent my team, my community and my country at a second Olympic Games,'' stated Zurrer in an email to the News Leader Pictorial from Salt Lake City where the Canadian team was playing a friendly with the U.S. before heading to Europe July 4.
"This time feels a little different because I had to overcome a few more hurdles and work my butt off more than ever before to get here.''
The biggest hurdle was being left off the roster by John Herdman, who replaced Carolina Morace as coach following last year’s World Cup disappointment for the team, during the Olympic qualifying tournament in Vancouver.
It was painful for Zurrer to watch her teammates secure a berth in the Games without her.
"I think that you gain strength through each experience or hardship you face and conquer,'' noted Zurrer in retrospect. "Right now I feel strong and confident and ready to take on whatever is thrown at me.''
Another valley athlete, Michael Braithwaite, is expected to be named part of the Canadian rowing team at the Olympics, any day now.
Zurrer received a chance to show Herdman what she could do at the Cyprus Cup as well as games in Boston, Sweden and Moncton and regular training in Vancouver following the qualifying tournament and leading up to the Olympic selections.
"I think I had to work a little harder to prove myself to him, especially after missing a big chunk of time at the beginning of his tenure, but we have a good relationship and I trust him fully as a coach,'' pointed out Zurrer.
She had commitments playing in Sweden just after Herdman took over as coach and Zurrer felt that hurt her chance to make inroads with him at first.
Valley soccer fans were thrilled upon hearing the news of Zurrer's selection.
"I think it's very deserving,'' said Cowichan LMG Pringle men's team coach Glen Martin.
"She's got the experience. It was just a matter of getting through to the new coach. I think she was caught in the middle between the old coach and the new coach.''
Zurrer worked out with Martin's men's team several times during her hiatus from the women's national side.
"She works real hard and she gets better as she goes along,'' said Martin.
During the men's sessions, it was "just like she's one of the guys,'' added Martin. "I think she enjoyed it.''
Zurrer and her teammates will spend 10 days in Switzerland training during early July before playing a few more friendlies and heading to London on July 15. The first game of the tournament is against Japan on July 25.
"I think this time we will be completely focused on the task at hand, which is achieving our ultimate goal of getting on the podium,'' Zurrer indicated. "In Beijing, it was our first time and there was so many wonderful things to take in. This time we will be getting down to business from the get-go and leaving everything else till after our competition is over.''
Zurrer is grateful to friends, family and the community for providing her with unwavering support.
"I brag to my teammates that I come from the best and most supportive community, the Cowichan Valley, not that I'm biased,'' she pointed out.
"The people here have been wonderful and it means a lot to me.''