Professional women’s soccer for Canadians (finally)

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For equal play to receive equal pay, we first need to focus on the ‘play’ bit. mohammad_hassan via Flickr and OpenClipart-Vectors via Flickr, manipulated by Lee Lim

Christine Sinclair unveils a professional league to promote careers in soccer among young Canadian women

Christine Sinclair is known as the best female soccer player that Canada has ever produced. She is an Olympic gold medallist and is the world’s all-time leading goal scorer with 190 international goals for Canada. She has been a part of a generation of female players who have helped shift the narrative of women’s soccer both in Canada and around the globe.

Her journey to stardom was different from that of young and upcoming players today like Jordyn Huitema, who went pro after graduating from high school. For Sinclair, there were no female professional leagues, and many professional leagues in which she participated ended up folding. During Sinclair’s youth, the only pathway to play soccer at a higher level was to play through the college level.

The rise of consistent women’s leagues across the globe shifted after the 2012 Olympics, when professional women’s leagues regained popularity. The 2012 Olympics also shifted the narrative of women’s soccer in Canada when Canada won the bronze medal. In her recent memoir, Playing the Long Game, Sinclair discusses the importance of having a professional women’s league in Canada.

Canada is currently the only team within the FIFA top 10 rankings that does not have a professional women’s league within their country. In recent years, there has been a shift in implementing semi-professional teams in Canada. However, there has also been a lack of urgency by top Canadian organizations and associations to implement the goal of a professional women’s league within Canada. In her memoir, Sinclair explains how incredibly talented players within Canada have not represented Canada at the international level due to not being able to showcase their talents to national team coaches and personnel.

The opportunity to showcase the talent that Canada has is imperative in being able to compete at the highest levels, such as competing at the World Cup. Canada’s u20 women’s national team recently lost all their games at the u20 World Cup, being beaten by France, South Korea, and Nigeria. These losses highlight the ever-growing need for a professional women’s league within Canada that can help in the development of future national team members.

A month after Sinclair’s book was published, she sat down for an interview with her former national teammate Diana Matheson to discuss their joint venture: creating a professional women’s league within Canada starting in April of 2025. The league will consist of eight professional teams, with each team having at least one national team player on the team. The Vancouver Whitecaps and the Calgary Foothills Soccer Club have been the first clubs confirmed to be taking part in the new league. Air Canada and CIBC are already on board to become sponsors for the league. The buy-in for the league is expected to be between $8-10 million, however the investment is predicted to be worthwhile.

The aim of the league is to have healthy salaries for players while providing respectable workplace environments for them as well. It will be interesting to see the success of the league, especially since soccer is continuing to grow within Canada. The idea of the league is to inspire the next generation of female soccer players competing in Canada to showcase that it is possible for female soccer players to live out their dreams within Canada. Who knows, maybe one of the professional teams will be located in Saskatchewan, inspiring the next generation of female soccer players within our province.

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