Foothills WFC forward Alex Lamontagne has travelled the world in pursuit of pro soccer.
“I just finished a year in France,” Lamontagne said. “I came back for the summer and I’ll probably head back again.”
Now, a Calgary group hopes to bring a National Women’s Soccer League franchise north of the border.
“It’s a lot of work,” Foothills WFC Head Coach Troye Flannery said. “I’m not going to suggest that it’s going to be here tomorrow. We still have quite a bit to do and we need to put all the pieces in place but certainly, we’re ambitious.”
Foothills Women’s Football Club is one of two Canadian clubs competing for the United Women’s Soccer League, one tier below the NWSL.
For Canadians playing at the highest level, there are really two options: move to the United States to play in the NWSL or play in Europe. There are no Canadian franchises in the nine-club league.
Many of Canada’s top players believe it’s hindering the growth of the game.
“Just having the thought that you don’t have to go to Europe, you don’t have to go far away to be a professional soccer player, you could play right in your country,” Lamontagne said.
“You can kind of inspire the younger generation to believe they could be professional soccer players if they want.”
With Foothills and Cavalry FC gaining popularity, Flannery is confident Calgary can support a team in a league that boasts superstars like Christine Sinclair and Marta.
“It’s so badly needed just to give young ladies, young women, young girls here something to aspire to and something you can actually see,” Flannery said.
On average, 4,000 young women compete in Calgary Minor Soccer’s outdoor season every year. About 800 of them compete at the U15 level, and U11 and U17 programs are consistently growing.
This weekend’s UWS championship is the first time the final has been played in Canada and it’s a key test to see if a new franchise could find a home in Calgary – even if it’s years away.
“If we can do anything for the game in this country, that’s what it’ll be,” Flannery said. “We’re going after it.”
Foothills WFC faces off against the Lancaster Inferno Saturday at 5 p.m. at Mount Royal University’s Stadium Field. The winner will advance to the USW Championship match Sunday afternoon.