As she enters the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame, Carmelina Moscato is enjoying life in Mexico

Soccer led Carmelina Moscato to jobs in Australia, Italy, Sweden, USA, Denmark and Mexico. And now the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame.

The former defenseman, who earned 94 caps for Canada between 2002 and 2015, as well as a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, joins 2000 Gold Cup hero Richard Hastings in the 2023 class.

Moscato never expected Hall of Fame recognition, but he’s grateful.

“It’s nice to be recognized for the Canadian aspect of my journey,” she said. “It’s pretty awesome.”

Moscato’s soccer adventure continues in Monterrey where she coaches Tigres Femenil in the Mexican women’s league. The Tigres women are currently fifth in the standings at 6-3-0.

“Mexico was a trip. It was incredible. Nine months of life,” Moscato said with a laugh. “Highs, lows and everything in between. It’s been a great experience so far.”

Moscato is one of three female coaches in the 18-team league.

Diverse resume since retirement

The 38-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., has had more than a little experience since retiring as a player in 2016.

She has served as a Canada Soccer youth coach and talent manager of the Canadian REX Development program, director and coach of the semi-pro Illawarra Stingrays in Australia, technical director of the Kleinburg Nobleton (Ont.) Soccer Club, Commissioner of the League1 Ontario Women’s Division, director of women’s soccer for the Bahamas Football Association and coach of Denmark’s FC Nordsjaelland.

Moscato says when her resume came after the game, “life took over.” But there was a huge helping hand from John Herdman, then coach of the women’s team and now head of the men’s program.

“Once I basically retired, he believed in me and gave me a mentorship at Canada Soccer that kind of sparked, I guess, my confidence and maybe my coaching potential,” he said. “I started thinking, ‘You know what? This could be what I sink my teeth into and see if I can really get this career going.”

That led to her coaching gig in Australia before returning to Toronto to be close to family, “because I hadn’t done that in 20 years.”

She worked as a technical director at the youth club level and in the Canadian Soccer Business front office with League1 Women — “everything else to do with soccer in the Canadian landscape.”

“I finally realized that my talents are best suited not in the boardroom right now, not in politics right now. Really coaching on grass, that’s where I feel like I can be most successful and share my strengths.”

Tigres UANL coach Carmelina Moscato looks on during the Liga MX Apertura 2022 women’s soccer final match at Universitario Stadium in Monterrey, Mexico in November. (Julio Cesar Aguilar/AFP via Getty Images)

Pleasantly surprised in a new role

Armed with an Italian passport thanks to her Sicilian-born parents, she had planned to stay in Europe after her contract in Denmark ended. Then Mexico’s opportunity presented itself.

“All of a sudden, I started hearing about Tigres Femenil — the club, the phenomenon that this club is. The program, the ambition. Really what they had achieved in a very short period of time was extremely impressive and I knew I had to at least hear the opportunity and what it would entail.

“Within 10 days I had left one opportunity and gone to another. And it was a whirlwind. I landed and started preparation the next day, within 12 hours. So I don’t know what to say. It was crazy. Fast, unexpected but enjoyable amazed at the soccer landscape here in Mexico.”

Tigres defeated Club America 3-0 on aggregate in November to win the Apertura 2022 final.

“It was a ton of lessons,” Moscato said. “I mean ups and downs. It wasn’t a perfect season by any means, but we found a way to win and we ended up on the podium for the fifth time in 10 chances. It was a very special season.”

This season has created new challenges.

“We’re learning some hard lessons,” he said. “We lost three on the road for the first time in history.

“I think I do better when I have my back against the wall. A bit of adversity here this season. A new story for Tigres. They’re not used to losing. I’m not used to losing with this team. So I’d say it’s a season of feedback, lessons, reflections and how we can make this very good group of players shine in the best possible light. That’s my job this season — to stay the course and stay on track.”

Tigres UANL femenil coach Carmelina Moscato, right, talks to and hugs the father of a player.
Moscato is seen talking to the father of one of her players before Tigres UANL’s second Torneo Apertura match in 2022. (Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Slow, even growth

The league was started with the aim of giving domestic players a place to play once they get past the youth levels. Imports were not allowed at first.

“It was a championship for Mexicans, by Mexicans,” explained Moscato. “And I thought it was very clever to start that way. It started very humbly.”

Each men’s team had to compete against a women’s team. Some were more interested than others.

“Tigres was a club that from the beginning really bought into the women’s project and invested a lot in players and staff and infrastructure that we are starting to see the benefits of now,” said Moscato. “We’re in year five. It’s looking really good. I’m really impressed with the development in the league — the tactics, but also the quality of players it’s attracting is really nice.”

Now Mexican teams are allowed up to four imports. For Tigres, they are Colombian center back Natalia Gaitan, South African midfielder/forward Noxolo Cesane and American winger Riley Parker and forward Mia Fishel.

Canadian championship hopeful

Moscato is optimistic that Canada will soon join Mexico in fielding a women’s championship, given that former Canadian teammate Diana Matheson is leading the charge.

Moscato, who grew up speaking English and Italian, is working on her Spanish.

“Basically I understand 80 percent. Especially if it’s a football context, I’m pretty good at 80 to 90 percent. I can connect with my players and get to the bottom of things. But when it comes to speaking, because things happen so fast here, I don’t expect to do a press conference in Spanish anytime soon.”

“I understand and I think that’s part of the puzzle,” he added. “But I definitely need to work on my expression and speech.”

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