Williams Lake’s Kayla Moleschi and Team Canada’s Women’s Sevens rugby squad will take their first steps early next month in qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
Moleschi, 24, and the team are currently in Vancouver as they prepare to depart next week for the upcoming Dubai Sevens, which begins Dec. 4.
Team Canada head coach John Tait released the 12-player roster this week for the opening leg of the tournament — the first in this season’s Women’s Sevens World Series.
The top four teams at the end of this year’s tournament automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympics, and Tait said it’s extremely important Canada gets off to a good start in Dubai.
He added the team will be looking to secure points early.
“This season is all about qualifying,” Tait said. “We want to win an event and a series, but we’re focusing on getting the points needed to be top four at the end of the season.
“This core group has been together for a few seasons now and we’ve added some quality youth and talent along the way, making our program more competitive than any previous year.”
While Tait integrated some youth into his squads during last year’s WSWS he has chosen a very experienced team to kick off the 2014/15 campaign.
In all five rounds last season there was at least one teenager named to Canada’s roster, while five players made their national team debuts. The youngest players heading to Dubai next week are 22 year olds Bianca Farella and Julia Greenshields, both of whom have plenty of experience with Canada’s Sevens Team.
The team will be led by once-again captain Jen Kish, who missed the 2013 Dubai Sevens with a hamstring injury.
Canada Sevens veterans Ghislaine Landry, Mandy Marchak, Kelly Russell and Ashley Steacy will help provide Kish with more experience on the field as the five women have spent the better part of the last decade playing together.
After being named the International Rugby Board player of the year, Magali Harvey is hoping to translate her 15s success onto the sevens pitch while Elissa Alarie and Karen Paquin will be eager to return to the international stage after finishing second at the Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Arielle Dubisette-Borrice also made the team after playing in three of five events last year, while Moleschi will look to build off a promising 2013/14 season where she scored nine tries — fourth most among Canadians.
The team departs for Dubai on Tuesday, Nov. 25, and will have nine days to prepare in the city before the tournament begins.
Canada has finished third in the WSWS standings two years in a row and has placed inside the top four in seven straight tournaments.
They will be grouped with Brazil, Fiji and England in Pool C.
All matches from the Dubai Sevens will be streamed live at http://wsws.irb.com.
Day one’s schedule will see Moleschi and Canada face off against Brazil at 12:28 a.m., Fiji at 3:24 a.m. and England at 6:42 a.m. Based on the results day two’s schedule will shape up.