After clinching their spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics, the defending Gold Medal Women’s Soccer champs are looking to Kadeisha Buchanan for experience and leadership as she makes her third appearance at the Games.
The Reds punched their ticket to the Olympics after beating Jamaica 2-1 on Sept. 26 on home soil. Buchanan said it was a dream come true.
“Never in a million years would I have thought that I would have been making more than one appearance in the Olympics,” the centre-back said.
Buchanan’s parents migrated to Canada from Jamaica in the mid-’80s because they wanted a better life for themselves with endless opportunities to find work.
Beating Jamaica was very hard for her because her family was stuck in a hard spot between Team Canada and Jamaica, their homeland.
“My sister came to the game in my Canadian jersey but had a Jamaican flag waving, my mom was just posting me next to (Jamaican forward) Khadija Shaw,” she said.
Her family members are her biggest supporters, with six sisters on her mom’s side and five brothers on her dad’s side.
Growing up in a single-family household, Buchanan says she must give her mom all the praise because she knows it was hard raising her.
Being the youngest sibling, she remembers all the ups and downs she witnessed her mom go through.
“I have 11 siblings in total, and we all were raised in Jane and Finch in the same house,” Buchanan said. “Imagine waking up and being responsible for 11 mouths.”
Her love for soccer came when she was seven, watching her dad playing the sport. Watching her father compete locally against different teams was all the motivation she needed.
“I grew up watching my dad on weekends play the game. I used to play around with the soccer ball on his grounds and that’s when I fell in love,” she said.
Buchanan was only 17 when she made her first appearance for the national team on Jan. 13, 2013.
As a two-time medal winner in the Olympics, a bronze in 2016 and a gold in 2020, she feels different going into the 2024 Olympics.
“How we qualified four years ago, that wasn’t the case, we will do like a CONCACAF qualifying tournament, and the top two teams automatically went to the Olympics,” Buchanan said.
“But this year if you won the tournament, you qualified and then the second runner-up plays that series and that’s how we ended up facing Jamaica,” she said.
One of her older siblings, Racheal Tate, says it’s been amazing growing up in the trenches with her little sister and seeing her rise to superstardom.
“Kadeisha, being the youngest, who would have thought she would be the first one in the family to reach one of the biggest stages in all of sport,” she said.
“Glory be to God, I’m extremely proud of my baby sister, the last of seven girls and to make it this far is more than heartwarming,” Tate said. “It’s a dream.”
After the victory over Jamaica, the team celebrated in the locker room with some treats that Buchanan was excited about eating after being overseas.
“We definitely had a glass of champagne and had a box of Timbits, which I was excited about,” she said. “Just being away from home for so long I was drooling for one.”
Buchanan has achieved a lot in her professional career, including winning the Canadian Player of the Year award in 2015, 2017 and 2020, and winning the FIFA Young Player Award at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Looking ahead to what awaits her team in the new year, Buchanan says the mindset will be different going into the Olympics.
“It wasn’t easy getting to the 2024 Olympics, so I think we got to ride on that wave that things are not given, you got to earn it,” she said.
When Buchanan is not around Team Canada, she spends most of her time with her club Chelsea FC in England.
Team Canada will defend its title next year and Buchanan has one message for everyone who doubted her.
“I’m going back to the Olympics, baby,” she said.