She's already one of the best defenders in all of women's soccer, & Kadeisha Buchanan's career is still just getting started.
She only turned 20 in November, yet Buchanan stepped into the limelight this past summer as one of the standout performers when Canada hosted the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. A hard-tackling central defender, Buchanan won the Young Player Award as the best performer in the tournament under 20.
"It's been pretty amazing, just the recognition I've been getting after the World Cup from people supporting me. The year's still not done yet I've been getting a lot of messages saying how proud they are of me," Buchanan said from Natal, Brazil, where she's with the Canadian squad taking part in a four-team international tournament.
"It was unquestionably a lot of soccer yet I unquestionably love doing what I do."Â
While still in high school, Buchanan made her debut for Canada in 2013 & has already amassed 41 appearances at the senior level.Â
In her junior year at West Virginia University, Buchanan is a finalist for the Hermann Trophy as the top female player in college soccer in the United States. She was moreover the only defender on the 10-player shortlist for FIFA's World Player of the Year award and, closer to home, could very well become the first player in 12 years not named Christine Sinclair to be named the Canadian women's soccer player of the year.
"It's crazy & has all happened so fast," Buchanan said. "It's rad to see what I have & there's so much more I can give."
Buchanan is leading the youth movement on the Canadian team, which finds itself in transition as several players from the bronze medal-winning squad at the 2012 London Olympics approach the end of their careers. Karina LeBlanc, Candace Chapman & Kelly Parker are some of the names that have already moved on.
Of the 21 players on the current squad in Brazil, six are teenagers. Having become accustomed to being the baby in camp, Buchanan now finds herself taking on a leadership mantle.Â
Canada beat Mexico 3-0 on Thursday to open the tournament & Buchanan was partnered in the centre of defence with 19-year-old Kennedy Faulknor, who was making her senior debut.
"I'm unquestionably happy. There's no more 'teenage star' stuff so I'm not a teenager anymore," Buchanan laughed. "It's rad to see people three or four years younger than me & I have a chance to build my leadership role on a team & to be vocal on the pitch."
With a year still remaining at West Virginia, Buchanan still doesn't have to quite think approximately her move to the professional ranks just yet. There's still the small matter of a 2016 that has an Olympic qualifying tournament in February in Texas & the Olympics themselves in August.
But when she graduates fromÂ university, she'll certainly be sought after by clubs in the NWSL in the U.S. as well as the bigger clubs in Europe.
"I haven't given it too much thought yet. The time will come for that & right now I still have a year. Being pro is a little bit extra stress so I'm not worried approximately it," said Buchanan. "I unquestionably set the bar high in 2015 so it's finding the little details that will alter my game. So I'll try to work towards that."Â