When the Canadian Premier League released their video story back in April, a few of us were intrigued by the presence of young female players. It felt to me at least, that the league was signaling intent to eventually launch a women’s division. While nothing had officially been confirmed, Steven Sandor tweeted in March that a women’s league was coming. I was cautiously optimistic that a women’s league might not be all that far away.
The wording that the league and most teams used rubbed me a bit wrong though. Suggesting Canadian ‘kids’ could now dream about playing pro felt disingenuous when there was (and still is) only a possibility for boys to do so in this country.
At Valour FC’s June 6th launch, Investors Group Field was packed with kids. Roughly half were girls, many adorned in their club kits. They cheered with excitement as each piece of information was revealed. But when the discussion turned to this new opportunity for ‘kids’, I watched as their faces dropped a little. I took some time afterward to speak to some of the girls around me, encouraging them to keep dreaming. I acknowledged that the opportunity wasn’t there yet, but suggested that by the time they were ready, there would be a league for them as well. If I’m being honest, I didn’t 100% believe it, but without a dream, there is no way, and I wanted these girls to keep dreaming.
With today’s announcement of the Valour FC Elite Girls program, Valour is beginning that pathway for girls. This caught me by surprise because I didn’t expect anything so soon. While not technically a brand new program, Valour’s direct involvement in a girls program is encouraging. There is no women’s league yet, but this club, our club, is committed to creating development opportunities for all of Manitoba’s kids, not just boys. It’s a promising first step and I truly hope this means that Valour will be at the forefront, pushing to launch a Women’s league as soon as possible.