‘It’s time’: Calgary ready to pave way for women’s soccer in Canada

WATCH CityNews’ Sandra Prusina speaking with Calgary Foothills FC and many more on the new Canadian women’s league

Calgary and Vancouver are set to house inaugural franchises in a new professional women’s soccer league that was first announced Monday night.

Long-time Canada women’s national soccer team member Diana Matheson is spearheading the project alongside Christine Sinclair, which aims to kick off in 2025.

Matheson says reaching out to Calgary Foothills was one of her first calls.

“As a former player, I’m not on the ground in the landscape, but we hear what’s going on. Foothills, for me, was always a club you heard was trying to progress the women’s game. They’ve already excelled at the regional level and leagues that exist,” she said.

“They’ve been looking around for a way to build professional women’s soccer, but obviously, that top tier of the pyramid hasn’t been there. So for me, it’s a club that’s always been leading the way.”

The two-time Olympic Medalist says Calgary is a great market because she sees it as the sports capital of Canada, with so many Olympians living in the city.

“I’m really excited to see what the team does,” Matheson said.

Calgary club thrilled at ‘incredible opportunity’

Foothills WFC has been a staple of the Calgary sports scene since 2015, when it embarked on exhibition matches in hopes of joining a semi-professional North American league.

Foothills became a part of United Women’s Soccer in 2017, advancing to the league finals twice, including this past season, thanks to an impressive 10-0 record.

“To have been part of the journey for the last six, seven years to now be part of the group that brings the next opportunity to Canada, to Calgary, and to our great club, it was an absolute no-brainer,” said Lee Tucker, Foothills WFC head coach.

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“It’s great to have a compliment from somebody like Diana Matheson to say that they wanted Foothills. We feel like we’ve proven that we’re ready, and now we’ve got a bit of work to do to prove it again. Off we go. But we are super excited.”

“There’s been a build-up to this pathway for quite some time for Foothills,” said Mike Mikuska, the club’s sporting director. “For the last seven years, we’ve built that pro-am team in the UWS league, and now we’re off to helping build the pro league across Canada.”

One of Matheson’s goals with the league is to open doors for more female leadership, whether it be on or off the pitch. And Foothills brass is ready to tackle that challenge head-on bringing in Deanna Zumwalt as the club’s director of women’s soccer.

“I think this [league] is an incredible opportunity to offer new experiences for young women to create confidence as leaders because all of the women in this program will not necessarily go on to be professional soccer players, but they’re going on to be professional something. So they are going to be amazing leaders,” she explained.

Zumwalt also says the club’s vision is to create opportunities around the world of sport for everyone, including players, coaches, managers and even investors.

The Foothills trio admits this is unchartered territory. Still, the anticipation is palpable, with Tucker saying some players currently suiting up in Europe are thrilled at the chance of playing in Calgary.

“And now we support to achieve that over the next two to three years as we build toward the league,” he said.

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