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John Herdman

February 14, 2019 by Speakers' Spotlight

John Herdman: Canada Will Qualify for 2022 World Cup

John Herdman understands the importance of vision, passion, and discipline in achieving success. He lives it in his work as the head coach of the Canadian Men’s Soccer Team and the former head coach of the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team.

In a recent article with SportsNet, Herdman’s passion for the sport and belief in the Canadian team is evident as he proudly enforced his belief that the team will qualify for the 2022 World Cup, and be competitive when Canada co-hosts the tournament in 2026.

Earlier this week, Canada Soccer unveiled its strategic plan for 2019-2021, where they invited Herdman to also speak on the team’s progress. Below is a segment from the Sportsnet article, read the whole piece here.

More than anything else, Herdman has helped to change the defeatist culture that has long enveloped the program. When Herdman speaks about the future of the men’s team, he does so with an unflinching confidence and self-belief.

Such was the case Monday afternoon at BMO Field where Canada Soccer unveiled its strategic plan for 2019-2021, a roadmap that it says “will lead the organization to the next phase of unprecedented growth for the game in our country.” The strategic plan promises to “align the nation’s soccer resources to strive for best-ever [team] performances at all major international competitions,” including the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and the qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Canada Soccer president Steven Reed, general secretary Peter Montopoli and director of development Jason de Vos were among the many speakers who outlined the plan during Monday’s press event. The star of the show, though, was Herdman.

The diminutive Englishman speaks with a passion and zeal that would be the envy of any professional motivational speaker. He talks loud and proud – one could argue too loud and proud when you consider the track record of the Canadian men’s program. But he makes no apologies for that. Nor does he shy away from making bold predictions, like he did on Monday when he said Canada will qualify for the 2022 World Cup, and that it will be competitive when the nation co-hosts the tournament in 2026 with Mexico and the United States.

According to Herdman, this new strategic plan… has provided a much-needed clarity to Canada Soccer as the country prepares to stage and compete in the biggest sporting event on the planet in seven years.

“The 2026 World Cup has brought an acute focus for this organization to do everything in its power to ensure that Canada can compete at that World Cup,” Herdman told reporters after Monday’s formal presentation.

Beyond the strategic plan, what makes Herdman so confident that Canada can be in Qatar in 2022 when the qualifying campaign hasn’t even begun? And what makes him so sure Canada can be competitive in 2026?

For starters, he doesn’t think Canada’s World Cup drought is an accurate reflection of the team’s historical standing in the Concacaf region.

“We’ve looked at the talent pool of players, and Canada have typically been in the top five in the last 20 years in comparison to their Concacaf competitors. That means players playing at the highest levels and the highest leagues … When we’ve looked at that statistical analysis, Canada should have competed more often for [a] world cup berth,” Herdman offered.

“With some generations, and with some of the key leaders in teams, they should have qualified based on the talent they had in their team. What’s been missing at times has been a commitment to a high-performance culture.”

Herdman insists “the culture is evolving” and that the talent level is there for the Canadian men’s team to make good on his promises.

“We don’t have excuses. I don’t want to be that guy making them. At the end of the day if we don’t qualify for [2022], it’ll be a disappointment. To put that level of expectations on the team is critical. The team wants that, they’re ready for it. They know it’s now or never for many of them,” Herdman said.

“So, when you say, ‘how do you know it’s going to happen?’, we have to make it happen. But more importantly, we have to believe, and I think that belief is there from the men who are going to be leading the charge.”

As the former Head Coach of the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team, John Herdman took a group once called a “struggling squad” to one that has captured the hearts and minds of Canadians. Under his leadership, the team won two back-to-back bronze medals at the Olympic Games, and a gold medal at the Pan Am Games ― the first Pan Am gold in Canadian soccer history. In his riveting talks, Herdman explains the importance of vision, passion, and discipline to achieve success, whether it’s on the field or in the office.

Interested in learning more about John and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at info@speakers.ca.