MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY - NOVEMBER 14: Canada head coach Rhian Wilkinson before the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Uruguay 2018 group D match between Canada and Colombia at Estadio Charrua on November 14, 2018 in Montevideo, Uruguay.(Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Canada Soccer has appointed Rhian Wilkinson as Head Coach of its Women’s U-20 and U-17 National Teams in the build up to next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. As part of Canada Soccer’s fully aligned National Team Program, Wilkinson will serve as Head Coach of both youth teams as well as an Assistant Coach to Kenneth Heiner-Møller for the Women’s National Team.

Wilkinson will lead Canada’s youth teams in the current cycle starting with the Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship and Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship, with dates yet to be announced. From there, Canada will aim to qualify for both the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2020. While her priority will be the national youth teams, she will also work with the Women’s National Team pending schedule availability.

“We are very excited to have Rhian Wilkinson on board as Canada Soccer’s Women’s National U-20 and U-17 Head Coach because she is talented and has excelled as a Head Coach at pinnacle events like the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018,” said Kenneth Heiner-Møller, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team Head Coach and Women’s National Excel Director. “She has been a great support to the Women’s National Team Program both on and off the pitch thanks to her great character, her insight, and competence.”

Wilkinson most recently served as Head Coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite program, which served as one of three Canada Soccer Super Excel Centres across the country. With the National Women’s Team, she was an Assistant Coach at both the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship and FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. She also served as Head Coach at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 when Canada posted a best-ever fourth-place finish.

“What an incredible honour to be able to lead the country I love at the U-20 and U-17 levels,” said Rhian Wilkinson. “I have been very fortunate to have been mentored throughout my coaching journey. Canada Soccer developed the Elite Player-Elite Coach program from which I have benefited hugely and I have been guided by John Herdman and then Kenneth Heiner-Møller, two giants in the women’s game.”

Wilkinson got her start in a coaching role with Canada in 2014 as an Assistant Coach with the Quarter-finalists at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014. As part of Canada Soccer’s Women’s Excel Program, it ensured Canada’s elite players were leading elite players in core positions throughout the Excel Program with a positive impact on performance. She has since obtained her Canada Soccer Coaching B Licence in 2015 and her UEFA A Diploma for Coaching in 2019. She has also served in the inaugural FIFA Coach Mentorship Program alongside mentor coach Hope Powell.

As a player, Wilkinson spent 15 years on the Women’s National Team and won the 2010 Concacaf Women’s Championship as well as back-to-back Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016. In all, she participated at four FIFA Women’s World Cups, three Olympic Football Tournaments and won medals at all six Concacaf tournaments and all three Pan American Games in which played. A six-time Québec Soccer Player of the Year, she made 181 international “A” appearances and recorded seven goals and 23 assists.

“I would like to thank Vancouver Whitecaps FC,” said Wilkinson. “The experience I have gained on and off the field, working with their top athletes as well as their staff, has been an important step in my development. They supported me from day one and encouraged me while I finished my UEFA A license, as well as supported me in my role as one of the Assistant Coaches for Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.”

Canada Soccer’s Women’s Excel Program brings together the best with the best at the national youth level from the U-14 to U-20 age groups. The program delivers an aligned talent structure that progresses players from the youth levels to the Women’s National Team. Across Concacaf, FIFA, and other youth competitions, players develop the Women’s Excel Program Playing Model and benefit from invaluable tournament expertise.

Additionally, Canada Soccer’s most talented U-14 to U-18 players are offered a specialised daily training environment through the Women’s Excel Centres. The program delivers Canada Soccer’s national curriculum through a two-tiered talent system, with three Excel Super Centres in British Columbia, Ontario, and Québec supported by smaller Regional Excel Centres positioned across the country.

Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Youth Teams have won four Concacaf titles: the 2004 and 2008 Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship, the 2010 Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship, and the 2014 Concacaf Girls’ Under-15 Championship. Canada have qualified for seven editions of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (including a silver medal at Canada 2002) and all six editions of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.