The official Canadian Soccer Web site calls it "the picturesque Algarve region of Portugal." University of Calgary goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek calls it two weeks of missed schoolwork and a potential health hazard.
"I've never been there before, but you can't do schoolwork on these trips," said a grinning Swiatek after she received an invite to the Algarve Cup by the Canadian Women's National Team. "It's just soccer, eating and sleeping. I heard horror stories about the water though. We'll have to use the bottled stuff."
Swiatek will join 19 other women for two weeks of bottled water in Portugal and hopes to earn a couple of starts in Canada's four matches. The 21-year-old Dinos keeper is hoping to impress national team Head Coach Even Pellerud enough to earn the back up keeper position for Canada at the Gold Cup tournament in October of 2002-a qualifying tournament for the 2003 World Cup.
"I'm going in wanting to start at least two games," Swiatek said. "I'm technically the third keeper right now, and I'd like to be number two."
Joining Swiatek in Portugal will be defender Noel Trepanier and midfielder Kristina Kiss, both teammates from her summer stint with the Ottawa Fury. Canada will compete in Group C with the hosts Portugal and newcomers Wales and Scotland. The best a Group C team can do is seventh, so Canada has no hope to better their impressive fourth-place performance from 2001. The team agreed to be relegated to Group C from Group A in order to avoid an England vs. Portugal matchup as those two teams will be competing against each other in World Cup qualifying.
"They kind of shafted us," said Swiatek with a smile. "But it'll give many [players] a chance to play a little. Four games and four wins-that's what we expect."
A slot in Group C gives Pellerud a chance to try out different combinations of players. Swiatek hopes to continue to impress after goaltending against the powerful United States squad for a 2--2 tie last summer.
"My goal is to make the World Cup team," she said. "And hopefully this will help."
Canada's first match is against Wales on March 1, with the tournament ending on March 7.