With all eyes of the world on France, one woman’s journey to Team Canada was slightly different than the majority of her teammates.
Desiree Scott is the only Canadian player in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup to have developed through U SPORTS soccer, proving that homegrown talent can make it on the world stage.
While her teammates may have attended university in the United States, or trained at academies overseas, Scott chose to hone her skills at home.
She was born and bred in Winnipeg, taking up soccer at the age of eight. She got her first Team Canada call up when she was 15 years old, at the U16 Women’s team camp. Since then, she has been a mainstay for the Canadian national team.
Even though she was getting consistent call ups to attend the national team camps, Scott chose to continue her career in Canada when deciding where to play her collegiate soccer.
Walt McKee, Scott’s coach with the Manitoba Bisons, says she was highly-recruited, but chose to stay home to be close to her family and to help grow a new program.
“She was a real homebody, liked being with her mom and family… (Walt) laid out the case for the fact that she can stay here and get her education paid for and play soccer,” says Gary Johnson, currently an assistant coach with the Bisons.
“She was a real homebody, liked being with her mom and family… (Walt) laid out the case for the fact that she can stay here and get her education paid for and play soccer”
Scott committed to the Bisons in 2005, ultimately spending the next five years with the team.
“Its sort of rare to stay in Canada (to) stay in school, normally the pathway is to go through the US…I think it’s a unique story and something to be proud of,” says Scott.
During her time with the Bisons, Scott, or “The Destroyer” as she’s become known, made a significant impact.
With eight goals in her debut season, she was named Canada West Rookie of the Year. She was also named a U SPORTS First Team All Canadian in 2009, and was selected to Team Canada for the FISU Summer Universiade both that year and in 2007.
“I have some super fond memories of being a Manitoba Bison… just the amount of dedication and work ethic it takes to play to represent your school,” says Scott. “I’m thankful for my journey and thankful for being a Manitoba Bison and being part of U SPORTS, as part of my story,”
Scott was also recognized for her leadership during her U SPORTS career, being voted team MVP on three separate occasions.
“She was one of the team captains, she was very popular with the other players… she just fit the mold to be able to play at that level,” says McKee.
“She was one of the team captains, she was very popular with the other players… she just fit the mold to be able to play at that level”
“She really wanted to play midfield, but we needed a left forward… she has just always wanted to play, and I think that’s why she’s done so well with the national team,” says Johnson, describing her ability to adapt.
Scott went on to tie the Canada West record for career points (53) and broke the conference mark for career assists (22). Following her five season with the Bisons, she began her professional and senior national team career.
Since 2010, Scott has made 145 total appearances for the Women’s National Team and started in 110 of them. She even returned to her Bison roots, as an assistant coach with the team in 2011.
Despite travelling the world for Team Canada, including to two Olympics in London and Rio where she won a pair of bronze medals, her love of her home never escaped her.
She also loves to give back to her community, by hosting an annual soccer camp for the charity KidSport, which works to help pay administrative fees for children so they can play. As a young player, Scott benefited herself from the initiative when she was first learning to kick a soccer ball.
“I can’t say enough of what Desi does at that camp,” says Rick McGregor, co-chair of KidSport Winnipeg. “Desi gets so involved, she’s on the field with the kids, she interacts with every single kid. She was a KidSport kid herself, her mother applied for financial assistance to get her into soccer.
Today, she is the face of women’s soccer in Winnipeg, and an ambassador for all U SPORTS student-athletes while competing for a world title in France.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Desi come back to Winnipeg after her career is all over,” says Johnson.
Rafael Indyarta is the U SPORTS Communications Intern for the Summer of 2019. He is currently completing a Journalism Graduate Certificate at Humber College, but is also a graduate of Queen's University. He has covered U SPORTS athletics for two years while at Queen’s, both on the radio and online, and also has been featured in 101.9 CFRC FM, Sweat Magazine and Canadafootballchat.com.