Tag Archives: soccer

Professional women’s soccer on the horizon in Calgary

Foothills WFC first practice - April 16th 2015

Foothills WFC first practice – April 16th 2015

A year ago, I never thought a professional women’s soccer team in our city would be possible. I chalked it up to lack of interest and had basically resigned to the fact that it was just a pipe dream. I looked at other North American cities with envy. Why is a city like Calgary, with a population of a 1.2 million plus and a massive number of registered players, struggling with that next step of soccer?

Things have now changed.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the driving forces behind Calgary Foothills SC. The group is working hard to embark on the goal of bringing professional women’s soccer to Calgary. They are fielding a squad this summer for an exhibition season to prepare for a debut in the W-League for 2016.

The roster consists of players from the ages of 16 to 30. Some have represented Canada at U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups, while others have completed storied college careers south of the border.

The skill set is nothing short of impressive. I had the opportunity to observe their first practice session and was floored at the talent. It’s inspiring to see the amount of passion going into this project by the players, coaching staff and management. When I left that evening, I realized something special was on the horizon.

It’s going to be an exciting ride.

Follow Foothills WFC on Twitter for the latest on their exhibition season.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Calgary, Canada, Soccer

Gallery: Calgary Foothills U23 v Vancouver Whitecaps U23

What an afternoon for soccer in Calgary. The weather was stunning for the friendly match, which saw over 1,200 pack Encana Field at Shouldice Park. It was an absolute pleasure being behind the lens and taking in the match from this perspective. Congrats to Foothills on their 2:1 victory. The club is working toward the goal of bringing back professional ball to this soccer-starved city.

Leave a comment

June 8, 2014 · 7:16 pm

Calgary hosting Ghana ahead of U-20 Women’s World Cup

Amazing things are happening in Calgary when it comes to the world of soccer. Foothills FC is on the cusp of bringing back professional men’s ball with the inaugural season of their U-23 PDL squad.

International Friendly Poster 3On the women’s side, Calgary West Soccer Club will be hosting the U-20 Ghana national team for a number of weeks in June and July. Ghana will be taking part in this summer’s U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada and they find themselves in Group A alongside the Canadian team.

The international team will also be holding a soccer camp while they are in Calgary. The camps will be under the direction of current Ghana head coach Bashiru Hayford and Emmanuel Kwasi Afranie, former Ghana coach, who is currently part of the Ghana Football Association Juvenile Technical Committee. They’ll work along side Calgary West FC technical director Henry Haeusler. The Ghana national team players will lead the training sessions.

During their stay in Calgary, Ghana will also take part in a number of friendlies as they prepare for the U-20 Women’s World Cup in August. A Canada Day match will feature Ghana going head-to-head with the Callies Major squad from the AMSL. The Callies roster is made of players who have played on soccer scholarships across North America, including Ranee Premji, who won the NCAA Championship with the North Carolina Tar Heels in 2012.

2014_FIFA_U-20_Women's_World_Cup_logoThe Ghana squad will be in Calgary from June 29th to July 21st. They open the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Toronto on August 5th against Canada.

Short editorial-type comments: Calgary has this odd perception amongst some of the soccer ranks that the sport, particularly the women’s side, isn’t popular here. I have no idea where this originated because it simply isn’t true. A lot of great Canadian players have come out of Calgary including Erin McLeod, Taryn Swiatek and Christine Latham. There are many youngsters on the cusp of doing great things too, including recent U-17 Women’s World Cup standout Sarah Kinzner from Foothills SC.

People in this city care. They care a lot. As someone who has played from CMSA to CIS and now twilight years in CWSA, I can first hand tell you there’s tremendous passion and following for women’s soccer in Calgary. You see it every time a summer camp is held, during outdoor and indoor provincials or even when a national coaching conference is hosted here. It’s amazing to see what the Calgary West and Calgary Callies clubs are doing to bring high calibre women’s teams and players here. Kudos to them and everyone involved.

1 Comment

Filed under Calgary, Soccer

Another step in the right direction for Canadian women’s soccer

Canada continue to prepare for the 2015 Women’s World Cup both off and on the pitch. Most recently, the Canadian Soccer Association announced the hiring of Daniel Worthington. His role is two-fold: Women’s Excel U-23 Program Director and assistant coach with the Women’s National Team.

Canada Soccer logoHead coach John Herdman often speaks of a massive gap that continues to trouble the women’s program in Canada. There are promising teenagers (centre-back phenom Kadeisha Buchanan, Summer Clarke, Nichelle Prince) along with talented, reliable veterans (Christine Sinclair, Erin McLeod, Diana Matheson), but what about the players who don’t fall in those age groups? What happens when Sinclair retires? No one is denying there are many unanswered questions, but the hiring of Worthington is a step in the right direction.

Worthington will be Herdman’s eyes and ears in the U-23 group. He’ll be able to see who can make the progression to being a key contributor and mesh with the already solidified group on the senior squad. A player like Sophie Schmidt was able to make a seamless transition from youth soccer to the senior ranks, but every player is different. Worthington, along with Beverly Priestman the Women’s U-14/U-17 Excel Program Director, will be able to pinpoint the girls who can take the next step in their soccer careers.

The addition of Worthington to the coaching staff is a great fit for Herdman. “From previous collaborations and encounters, we found that Daniel had the right skills set to serve as the link between our group of U-20 players and our Women’s National Team athletes and will be a great asset in leading the U-23 program,” he said.

The hiring also allows Herdman to focus the majority of his attention on the group he’s preparing for 2015 and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Worthington’s resume is impressive: Director of High Performance and National Training Centre Atlantic Director for Soccer Nova Scotia, Canadian Soccer Association National “B” Coaching Licence, UEFA “B” Licence and he’s in the process of completing his Canadian Soccer Association National Licence “A” certification.

It’s also important to recognize that Worthington is Canadian. He knows the intricacies of soccer in our country and where the biggest struggles lie.

This fall is a busy one for all of our women’s programs:
– U-14/U-16 camp
– CanWNT residency camp in Vancouver
– CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship (Jamaica)
– CanWNT friendlies versus Korean Republic (Edmonton – October 30) and Mexico (Vancouver – November 24)

Tickets are available for both friendly matches through Ticketmaster.

Leave a comment

Filed under Canada, Soccer

What 2012 in Canadian sports means to me

Canadian Olympic Committee logo

Canadian Olympic Committee logo

What a year. It’s almost hard to put into words how 2012 has impacted my view on sports and my feelings as a Canadian. I’ve never been more proud of my nationality. The performances, results and actions of our athletes personified everything it means to come from this country.

One of the first people I look at is Milos Raonic. He immigrated from Montenegro to Canada when he was a little boy. His parents came here so he could have a great childhood. They gave him every opportunity to thrive in tennis and when you look at all he accomplished this year, you can say his family and coaching staff did a wonderful job. Although he captured two ATP titles in 2012, I think he was most impressive at the US Open when he advanced to the fourth round. He was turning heads in New York and a lot of the mainstream media was noticing “the tall kid from Canada” with a blistering serve. Roger Federer was even quoted saying he sees Milos as a top ten player. He finishes the year ranked 13th in the world and coming up in February, he’ll once again be Canada’s main weapon when they host Spain in Davis Cup action.

When I think back this on year, another athlete that sticks out in my mind is sprinter Jared Connaughton. His humility and heartache at the Olympics was felt by all. After his 4X100 team was denied the bronze due to a lane violation, he apologized to us. He didn’t point fingers and he didn’t make excuses. Jared, you showed us class and grace. Thank you! We are all proud to have you representing Canada.

Switching over to the world of hockey, Steven Stamkos had a 2011-2012 campaign for the ages. His spectacular 60 goal season will be remembered for a very long time. He’s the 20th player in NHL history to hit that mark and it comes during an era where goals are hard to come by. Hopefully this work stoppage gets ironed out sooner than later, so we can see Steven on the ice again.

And saving the best for last, our very special Canadian women’s soccer team. As someone who has covered and followed this core of players for over a decade, I felt like a proud sister, beaming with pride when they stood on the podium with their bronze medals in London.

How fantastic is it to finally see Christine Sinclair getting the recognition she deserves? And how equally amazing is it to hear Christine always crediting her teammates for helping her along the way. What a leader. The beaming smile on her face as she carried the flag at the closing ceremony will be etched in our minds forever.

All of these girls and their families have given up a lot to play for our country. They are humble, kind and fantastic role models. The time is now to embrace them. My words don’t do this team any justice and if you ask me in person, I’ll talk your ear off about their journey over the last 10 years. One of my greatest wishes is that Canada continues to support women’s soccer with such fervor as the last six months. These ladies deserve it.

Thanks to everyone for an unforgettable 2012! I’m tremendously proud to be a broadcaster in this country, but more than anything, I’m so proud to be Canadian.

Leave a comment

Filed under Canada, Hockey, Olympics, Sandra, Soccer, Tennis

Let the girls play: North America needs a pro league

Rumors are swirling about a new professional women’s soccer league in North America. The league would likely have teams in a number of U.S. cities with some squads based out of Canada. The potential is exciting, especially for Canadian players and fans with the Great White North hosting the 2015 Women’s World Cup. A new league would be the perfect preview and buildup for such a world-class event.

Most North American players have been on the sidelines since the WPS folded earlier this year. Although Canada’s Rhian Wilkinson and Diana Matheson are currently playing in Norway, the majority of the senior team is waiting. Of course the squad deserved a break after the Olympics considering the physical and emotional highs and lows they experienced, but it’s now late October. You can imagine they’re all ready to hit the pitch again.

A number of the girls have gone the coaching route. Carmelina Moscato is currently an assistant at the University of Wisconsin. Her squad features four Canadian youngsters, including forward Monica Lam-Feist who is having an exceptional year for the Badgers. The team is gearing up for the BIG Ten Tournament and are winners of five straight, including an impressive come from behind victory on Sunday versus Indiana. Desiree Scott is also coaching in her home, Winnipeg, at the University of Manitoba.

Jonelle Filigno and Chelsea Stewart have been busy this fall with their respective college clubs. Thanks to a full schedule of games, they’ll be ready for national squad fitness testing scheduled for December.

So, where does that leave the rest of the players?

These girls shouldn’t be waiting on the sidelines to play. The WPS provided an excellent outlet for players to hone their skills after finishing college or while on break from their national teams. When the Western New York Flash won the WPS title in 2011, they boasted a lineup of some of the world’s best: Christine Sinclair, Marta, Caroline Seger and Alex Morgan. Who wouldn’t want to watch those players on a weekly basis, especially with the chatter about women’s soccer so high right now?

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati spoke this week and mentioned they were in talks with the Canadian Soccer Association about a potential pro league. He, too, reiterated the importance of having teams where players will see steady time on the field. The interest is strong on both sides of the border. Women’s soccer in Canada is as popular as ever, while their American counterparts are equally embracing the sport.

The key will be focusing in on markets where teams can thrive, while having games on ideal days that will bring in decent attendance numbers.

My fingers are crossed and I know the same can be said for thousands of people on this continent. Hopefully this will come to fruition in the next few weeks. Simply put, North America needs professional women’s soccer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Canada, Soccer

Final eight for Canada’s U-17 squad with major test ahead

Two wins and a draw for Canada’s U-17 girls in group play means they’re off to the quarterfinals at the Women’s World Cup. Their spot was secured with a 1-0 win over host nation Azerbaijan on Saturday.

Regardless of those three crucial points, Canada likely isn’t totally pleased with the result, even though the stat sheet had them at 62% possession. In the first, the red and white had nine shots on goal, but none of them were on target. It was actually Canada’s Kailen Sheridan who made the best save of the opening half, when she was able to get her fingertips on Melis Sarialtin’s spinning shot from just outside the box in the 45th minute.

Azerbaijan’s Aytaj Sharifova was simply solid in goal on the other side of the pitch. Her positioning was solid and wasn’t afraid to be agressive. After the game, Canadian bench boss Bryan Rosenfeld quickly credited her for an outstanding performance in front of her home fans.

Canada’s lone goal came courtesy of Valerie Sanderson early in the second on a bit of a broken play when scooped the loose rebound past Sharifova.

The lack of finish will be the focus for Rosenfeld’s group going into October 4th’s quarterfinal meeting with Korea DPR. The North Koreans have only allowed two goals all tournament, while scoring 13. That’s 10 more than Canada. They will also have to pay attention to forward Un Sim Ri. She’s scored five times and is currently in second place for the golden boot.

Nothing is impossible in soccer. With the right tactics and frame of mind, any team can win on any given night. The Canadians will have to believe in themselves and use their soccer smarts to get by the North Koreans. It will come down to the basics: dependable two-way play, strong clears, crisp passes and making the most of the open space.

Opening kickoff between Canada and Korea DPR is 6 am (MT) on October 4th in Baku.

Leave a comment

Filed under Soccer