True patriot love

Saskatchewan sporting legend Buydens proud to represent Canada twice

As one of the women who helped to lay the foundation for modern day women’s tackle football in the province of Saskatchewan, Jessie Buydens is proud to have been able to play on the international stage. Having competed at the IFAF Women’s Worlds in 2010 and 2013, Buydens has claimed two silver medals.

Having helped establish the Saskatoon Valkyries as the first dynasty in the Western Women’s Canadian Football, Buydens brought tremendous leadership to Team Canada in 2013. As her head coach from the Valkyries, Jeff Yausie, was also the head coach for the Canadian contingent, his winning ways would positively impact the squad.

Facing a halftime deficit against host country Finland, Buydens notes how his coaching staff contributed to a comeback win that would serve as one of the great moments at the 2013 Worlds. In discussing if Canada believed it could win at halftime, she noted,

“Absolutely we did, you have to believe you can turn a game around. Obviously the game did not start the way we had anticipated that it would but we had great coaches who were able to adapt the game plan and as needed and great athletes who were able to implement the adapted game plan.”

With the 2013 edition of Team Canada featuring dozens of new faces, the anticipation of playing the first game brought with it a combination of excitement and nervous energy. After a convincing victory against a Spanish team making their debut on the IFAF stage, Buydens notes the feelings of elation and happiness afterwards.

“It was a good feeling. We were able to put the skills and systems from practice into play in a game scenario. It is always a bit of a relief to get your first game under your belt after so much practicing leading up to the actual tournament. It was a really good first game to see what worked well and what needed to be adjusted.

Ultimately though, you cannot really spend too much time focusing on the game that just finished when the tournament is as short as the Worlds. You really need to keep looking forward to the next game and what you need to accomplish when you get there.”

As women’s football in Canada does not involve interleague play, the opportunity for Buydens to call members of the Maritime Women’s Football League and the IWFL’s Montreal Blitz teammates again was satisfying. While the WWCFL had the most number of players donning the Canadian jersey, Buydens was quick to recognize the dedication and athleticism that her colleagues from other areas of the country possessed.

“I had the experience to play with some of the MWFL and Blitz players during Worlds in 2010 so it was not an entirely new experience for me. It is always great when you can get the best athletes in the country together to play for the Maple Leaf. It was great to be surrounded be so many dedicated women who love the sport so much.”

In reflecting on her 2013 experience at the IFAF Women’s Worlds, there was not a lot of time for celebrating. As one of several mothers competing on the team, family obligations forced her back home sooner than others. Despite the frantic need to return for an event that would prove to be well worth it, a moment from the 2010 IFAF Women’s Worlds will always have a place in her heart.

The highlight of my 2013 Worlds trip was not actually related to football, it was a two-day whirlwind trip home to Canada for my son’s high school graduation. I do remember in 2010, we played Germany on Canada day and after we won the game the whole crowd (it seemed) serenaded us with O Canada. That was definitely one of my proudest most memorable moments while playing for team Canada.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Photo credit: Morgan Modjeski, Metro News Saskatoon

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