Ms. Namita Nayyar: You missed the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 because of an injury. How you were able to overcome such a physical injury setback and what advice you can give to fellow sports person in a similar situation?
Ms. Josee Belanger: It was one of the most difficult moments of my career. Getting so close to your dream but then having to sit out because of an injury is heartbreaking. It’s the sad side of sports, as an athlete. But every bad situation represents an opportunity to get stronger: stronger physically and, most importantly, mentally. I spent a lot of time correcting some of my imbalances, as well as working on activating important muscles to reduce injury risk. I also took the time to reconnect with my goal, and reaffirm my belief that I could achieve it.
When your desire is strong enough and you work hard, great opportunities will come at the right time. It’s about doing your homework, keeping positive and trusting that the pieces will fall into place in the future. There’s a saying I love: “focus on where you want to go, not what you fear!”. Yes, of course you’re concerned that you won’t come back as strong as you were before, or that you’ll lose your spot on the team, or that your recovery will take too long. But if you focus on all that, you’ll never get you where you want to be. Trust the process, believe your destiny and focus all your energy on what you want to achieve with a positive mindset.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: You were 18 years old when you made your debut for Canada (i.e on 30 July 2004) and won a gold medal at the 2004 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in Canada. Tell us your feelings on representing your country on that memorable day in your life?
Ms. Josee Belanger: It was such an honour to have the opportunity to represent my country! I remember that tournament very well. We took part in the CONCACAF qualifications in Ottawa and Montréal. A moment that I will never forget is the final. It’s always been a two-horse race between us and the United States. We were on top of our game and playing very well.
We generated a ton of scoring opportunities and finally managed to secure the win in the last 2 minutes of overtime. I had a great opportunity to end the game on a header off a free kick. Even if we had already qualified (2 teams from CONCACAF were going to the U20 World Championship), we really worked hard to beat the US. We put our body on the line and gave it our all, and came out on top with a win in front of our home crowd in Ottawa. It was an unforgettable experience.