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15 August 2019 | in Summer FISU World University Games, Football

Patrolling Summer Universiade sidelines leaves impression on Canadian coach

McGill sports fans are used to seeing longtime women’s soccer head coach Jose Valdes patrol the sidelines of Percival Molson Stadium, red jacket and toque in tow. Last month, however, Valdes donned a different shade of red; that of Team Canada.


For the third time in his career, Valdes was an assistant when Canada took to the field at the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade.


“I’m very much excited about the opportunity and support I get from McGill to represent Canada at the Games,” he said.


For Valdes, coaching in such tournaments is an opportunity to develop his own tactics and methods to apply with the Martlets – in addition to spending time in places like South Korea, Taipei, and Italy.


“You learn so much from the games themselves, conversations with other coaches on what we are analyzing together, and how we see things with a different eye depending on our past experiences,” he said.


“We also get to coach a variety of players with different backgrounds and all top players in their respective conferences and programs.”


Beyond coach Valdes, the Martlets have also sent players and staff to the Canadian women’s soccer team competing at the Summer Universiade in the recent past. This July he is accompanied by current Martlet player Nathalie Brunelle and recent graduate Sarah Dubois.


At the Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade, Valdes was joined by team therapist Charlotte Villeneuve. In 2015 in South Korea, Martlet striker Rebecca Green made the cut and wore the Canadian jersey alongside her coach.


Valdes knows firsthand how important the experience can be for varsity student athletes.


“Second to the Olympic Summer Games in size, the event is simply impressive to live,” he said.


“Walking into the opening ceremonies with 30 to 40 thousand people in attendance, wearing your Canada gear, all you see is smiles and sometimes even tears. On the field, each one of these players is a top performer on their respective team but once they make Team Canada, they have to reach another level as everyone is just as good as them. They need to raise their level and grow from the experience.”


A global perspective


For Valdes, 2019 has been a year of international travel and adventures. In May, the McGill Martlets soccer team went to Paraguay to volunteer in rural communities. One of their projects was to help build a soccer stadium.


"We had to chop everything down to the ground and it was all very bumpy," he said. "It was very bumpy, so then it was shovels to flatten the field out."


Once completed, the field will be a major part of the community life. "It will have an outdoor gymnasium as well," Valdes said.


The team didn't limit itself to just the soccer field either. They also helped construct a soup kitchen and bathrooms for the community.


"We were making the cement," Valdes said. "Pouring it, laying it down, placing the bricks and everything else they had. We moved dirt around and things like that."


Valdes also had his players out in the community and connecting with locals.


"The main thing was for us to empower the people there," he said.