Kadeisha Buchanan interview: The flow to young Canada defender’s hustle

Photo courtesy of WVU Sports Communications
Photo courtesy of WVU Sports Communications

Canada defender Kadeisha Buchanan’s reputation is steadily rising, with a standout performance in May’s draw with the U.S. doing her no harm at all, and her musical and family background gives a glimpse into the person behind the whole-hearted player.

Just under four weeks ago, a crowd of 28,255 in Winnipeg saw the Canadian Women’s National Team take on rivals the U.S. in a friendly. It is always an eagerly-anticipated match-up, and all the more so since the dramatic 4-3 extra-time win for the Americans in the 2012 Olympic semi-final.

It was Canada who struck first in the latest meeting, as 18-year-old centre-back Kadeisha Buchanan climbed above Ali Krieger and Abby Wambach to power a textbook, first-half header into the net from Diana Matheson’s corner. The Brampton, Ontario product was in eye-catching form all night, backing up her goal with a robust and impressive display at the back against legendary striker Wambach. Kadeisha was deemed by many as the game’s standout player, receiving widespread praise for her part in the 1-1 draw (after Sydney Leroux’s late equaliser).

As explored previously on here with the likes of Erin McLeod, Kara Lang and head coach John Herdman, music comes into the identity of the Canada team in a big way. Whether it is one of the players performing vocally, or Celine Dion on the speakers, it is hard to escape!

Kadeisha was one of three teenagers in the defence against the U.S. and already seems to have the respect of the more-established players. When it comes to music, she has caught one or two on the team by surprise, and she explains how.

“I have six sisters of all different types of ages. I know songs from the late-’80s and all through the ’90s and 2000s.

“The girls (on the national team) will make jokes like, ‘Do you know these songs? These songs are older than you!’ The only reason why I know them is because of my sisters.”

Although born and raised in Canada, as well as a Brams United SC player from the age of eight, Kadeisha’s family background is Jamaican. Her father comes from St. Thomas, while her mother hails from Montego Bay, and she maintains a strong connection with her parents’ homeland through music.

“My Jamaican heritage plays a huge part in my life. Literally 90 per cent of the music I listen to is reggae, nine per cent r&b and rap, and one per cent country.

“When I am away from home, I listen to reggae to make me feel closer to home. Before game time, I listen to reggae to pump me up, motivate me, but it also makes me feel calm and have no worries at the same time.”

A notable player as a defender at Cardinal Leger Secondary School in Brampton, Kadeisha went on to make her senior international debut at just 17. She won a silver medal at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship in Guatemala in 2012, also playing in the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan.

As she has made reference to, music has always been around for her growing up, but it is only in recent months she has bought music for the first time by herself. As one of twelve children, she never needed to before!

“My first CD I ever bought was Beyoncé’s recent album (‘Beyoncé’). I have a lot of siblings, so I would just download their CDs.

“My parents listen to reggae, and artists like Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. The music that I listened to growing up was what you call old-school reggae, which was Bob Marley, Jah Cure and Beres Hammond.

“I also listened to TLC, Destiny’s Child, Brandy and Aaliyah. My favourite artists (now) are Popcaan, Beyoncé, Keyshia Cole and Drake.”

Kadeisha won silver with the national team at the Four Nations Tournament in Yongchuan, China last January, as well as bronze in the International Tournament of Brasilia at the end of the year. She was also named Canadian Under-20 Player of the Year (alongside Dylan Carreiro) for 2013, after five international Player of the Match awards.


Photo courtesy of WVU Sports Communications
Photo courtesy of WVU Sports Communications


Canada coach John Herdman has described her as the ‘(Christine) Sinclair of defenders,’ and has said although there are areas to improve, she has a chance of being the world’s best in her position. Being likened to her international skipper and arguably one of the women’s game’s greatest ever players in Sinclair is high praise indeed.

A fellow defender she has the continued opportunity to learn from is Washington Spirit’s Robyn Gayle, a long-time member of the Canadian squad, and also the one in charge of the sounds when game day arrives.

“The locker-room DJ is Robyn Gayle – ‘DJ RG’ is what I call her. The kind of songs that are bumping in the locker room and on the bus are ‘Fancy’ by Iggy Azalea, ‘All of Me’ by John Legend, and Sam Smith ‘Stay With Me’.

“As long as no one is listening to techno, I am good.”

Also taking part in the Cyprus Cup earlier this year, as Canada finished in 5th place, Kadeisha could play in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in August. Goalkeepers Erin McLeod and Karina LeBlanc each have a wealth of experience to share with the younger players on the senior team, and in terms of charisma, neither are lacking.

An interview subject on here last year, McLeod wins Kadeisha’s vote for singing ability, though she cannot say the same for herself and LeBlanc!

“I would say Erin for good; she has an amazing voice. Bad, I would say Karina and myself; we put on a performance for ourselves in Brazil and we had a good laugh.

“I shy away from singing in front (of people) out loud. The only time you will hear me sing is if I am extremely comfortable with you; I would rather dance.”


Photo: Canada goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc (left) with Kadeisha.
Canada goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc (left) with Kadeisha.


As part of her celebration after her goal against the U.S. showed, Kadeisha enjoys some outward expression of her character. She has the rhythm taken care of, but even if she shies away from singing for the most part, which of her teammates would she choose to record a cover with?

“I would do a cover song with Karina (LeBlanc), Desi (Desiree Scott), Robyn (Gayle) and Carmelina (Moscato) to ‘She’s Royal’ by Tarrus Riley.”

Away from her international career on the field, Kadeisha has recently completed her first year at West Virginia University. She started all 23 games at centre-back for WVU’s Mountaineers and contributed towards ten shutouts for Nikki Izzo-Brown’s team.

The number-12-ranked team’s season ended at the second round of the NCAA Tournament, after their second Big 12 regular-season title in a row and first Big 12 Soccer Tournament title. Kadeisha had the honour of being named to the 2013 NSCAA All-America second team, and was the first Mountaineer to achieve NSCAA All-American recognition.

She looks back on how her freshman year went in Morgantown.

“I went into school not knowing what to expect and hoping for the best; my first year at WVU has been amazing. It was definitely an unforgettable year for me, I had a great year.

“A cool place to go is called Coopers Rock (State Forest); you can get a beautiful view of the town.”

Back home, she has joined up with Ottawa Fury in the W-League. There are some familiar names on the roster, including captain and Norwegian international midfielder/forward Lisa-Marie Woods. Also with the Fury in the capital are others with a WVU/national-team connection – midfielder Ashley Lawrence and defender Bryanna McCarthy.

The Fury also boast vastly-experienced forward Kristy Moore, a senior international for both Australia and England during her career. Although still a teenager, Kadeisha can only benefit from those she has the chance to work with, and already feels she has taken something from the sport to stand her in good stead for the future.

“I have learned that education is very important. You have to be smart or else people will try to take advantage of you, and you have to be smart about what you say on social media, and in the media.

“You get to know what you want in life and to prioritise the importance. My life ambition is to help kids that can’t afford to play sports and to give back to communities in the projects.”

There are wider objectives in her thinking, and such a perspective can surely only serve her well. In her extremely-promising career to date, she has shared a locker room and taken to the pitch with some talented and influential figures. Currently, she is in camp with the Canada Under-20s, along with two fellow WVU players – the aforementioned Ashley Lawrence, and forward Amandine Pierre-Louis.

Although still very young, Kadeisha was willing to answer the regular final question. Asked to put herself into a 5-a-side line-up next to four of the best she has played alongside, here was what she came up with; a true mix of youth and experience on this all-Canadian team!

“Goalkeeper – I can’t just say one when you have two incredible players – Erin McLeod and Karina LeBlanc. Erin because she is an awesome person, Karina because she is my mentor.

“Defender – Carmelina Moscato, because she’s funny and because her knowledge and passion for the game is unbelievable. Midfielder – Ashley Lawrence, not only because we’re close friends but she gets out of crazy situations.

“Striker – Christine Sinclair, because she is my idol and she is the best.”

Follow me on Twitter: @chris_brookes

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