A last-minute decision to pack soccer boots on a family holiday has embarked a Port Coquitlam teen on a journey that could someday see her play for her country at the Women’s World Cup.
Amra Becirovic, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Riverside Secondary School, spent much of last summer visiting Bosnia with her parents, where they’d lived until immigrating to Canada shortly after the civil war ended in 1995.
A centre-back on Coquitlam’s Metro-Ford BC Soccer Premier League U17 team, Becirovic added her soccer boots to her suitcase just before departing for the airport in case she had an opportunity to keep up her training.
By the time it was time to head home for the start of the school year, Becirovic was in Romania playing a series of friendly exhibition matches with Bosnia’s national U17 women’s team.
“It was like a dream come true,” Becirovic said of the unlikely detour in her summer vacation plans that started when she had coffee with a local club coach in Brcko, who happened to have a connection to a coach with the national U19 women’s team.
That led to Becirovic quickly assembling a video reel of highlights from her play in the BCSPL and culminated with an invitation to train with the U17 side.
“I had no idea what to expect,” Becirovic said.
Like herself, most of Becirovic’s teammates were first generation offspring of parents who’d left Bosnia.
They were from Sweden, the United States, Norway, Germany, but they all spoke Bosnian.
At training camp, and then the two-week trip to Romania, they bonded.
Becirovic said the Bosnian style of play is built on speed and aggression, just the way she likes to play. Preparing for matches is more intense than club soccer in Canada.
“They’re very focussed on skills and technical ability with the ball,” she said. “Games are quicker, more fast-paced.”
Bringing that development back home with her to her Metro-Ford and high school teams has made her a better player, Becirovic said.
Conversely, the self-discipline she’s learned here to juggle her sporting and school commitments serve her well in Bosnia, where she’s returned several times for training camps and tournaments, including the recent European qualifier that was won by Bosnia, placing the country amongst the top U17 women’s teams in the continent.
Now, as she prepares to graduate to the U19 side, Becirovic sees doors of opportunity to pursue her soccer dreams opening before her, including someday playing professionally in Europe and representing Bosnia on the world stage.
“It’s nice to see all the hard work pay off,” she said.