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Nanaimo's Wilkinson among three B.C. players invited to Canada U-20 soccer camp

Jazmine Wilkinson of Nanaimo joins Mia Pante of North Vancouver and goalkeeper Camellia Xu of Port Moody at the camp, which starts Monday in Markham, Ont.
Jazmine Wilkinson has already represented Canada. Canada Soccer

The Tokyo Olympic gold medal is already last year’s news. The Canadian women’s soccer program looks to the future with the next generation invited to the Under-20 identification camp in Markham, Ont., starting Monday.

Three B.C. players are among the 25 invited, with Jazmine Wilkinson of Nanaimo joining Mia Pante of North Vancouver and goalkeeper Camellia Xu of Port Moody. All three are in NCAA Division 1. Midfielder Wilkinson plays at Arizona State with the Sun Devils, fullback Pante at Texas A&M and Xu at Montana.

“It’s exciting for the program to re-launch our national youth teams since the start of the pandemic and see what talent we have coming through the system,” Canadian women’s national team head coach Bev Priestman said in a statement.

“These players have just witnessed our women’s national team achieve an [Olympic] gold medal and the role our youth national team programs had in that unbelievable achievement. I’m sure they need no more motivation to put on the jersey, work hard and dream big.”

Wilkinson, 19, has been dreaming just that since starting soccer at age four and coming up through Harbour City FC, Upper Island Storm, Vancouver Island Wave and in the Vancouver Island Premier League. She has already represented Canada at U-17 and U-20 levels and could be part of the next golden generation at the Olympics.

“I am calm on the ball and like to create plays by laying on good passes,” she told the Times Colonist.

The Canada camp in Markham will be conducted by women’s U-20 coach Cindy Tye. The camp is to prepare for the 2022 CONCACAF U-20 championship in the Dominican Republic from Feb. 25 to March 12. The 16 national sides will be divided into four groups. Canada is slotted with El Salvador, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago. The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout phase, from which the top three nations will qualify for the FIFA U-20 women’s World Cup from Aug. 10-28 in San Jose and Alajuela, Costa Rica.