Diana Matheson was our first Fall 2023 Forum presenter. Diana is passionate about women`s soccer and her infectious enthusiasm enthralled us with her recounting of the trials and tribulations of pursuing her dream for a Canadian women`s professional soccer league. To this end she became a co-founder with Thomas Gilbert of Project 8, set up with the mission to create an opportunity for every Canadian to engage with the promise of sport through the establishment of a women’s professional soccer league founded on the principles of inclusion, community, and identity.
She told us of the frustrations of young girls, wishing to follow their soccer dreams, having to go aboard to train and play professional soccer. A great loss, says Diana, to Canada, when trying to build a sustainable league in this country. She compared this with the international development of women’s pro sport in many other countries of the world such as England (2018) and Mexico (2017).
She outlined the steps to creating a Canadian league even though there is no blueprint in place to do this yet. There are three, soon to be four, teams being established in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. The nascent fourth was not revealed to us. The next step is to do impressively well in the 2024 Olympics and have a kick-off between eight teams by 2025 and then build towards an expansion to 12 teams by 2028.
The time is now, she says, to bring together Canadian talent and the country`s will to have a world class women`s professional soccer league.
by Linda Tu