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Vancouver, Calgary first teams announced in new women’s pro soccer league

Vancouver Whitecaps general manager of women's soccer Stephanie Labbe, former Canadian women's national soccer team goalkeeper, attends a news conference after she was named to the position, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. The Vancouver Whitecaps announced Monday that it will be home to one of two founding teams when a new professional women’s soccer eight-team league begins in 2025. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER — A new professional women’s soccer league is coming to Canada.

The Vancouver Whitecaps announced Monday that the club will be home to one of two founding teams when the eight-team league begins in 2025. The other founding team belongs to Calgary Foothills Soccer Club.

Homes for the six other teams are expected to be named in 2023.

The league will operate countrywide across two conferences, with four teams in each conference.

Diana Matheson, a former member of the Canadian women’s national soccer team, and her business partner Thomas Gilbert are launching the league under the banner of Project 8 Sports Inc.

“We are thrilled to announce that the development of a Canadian professional women’s soccer league is well underway,” Matheson said in a statement. "CEO of Project 8. “Much work has gone on behind the scenes to get to today."

Project 8 said in a release that the league will be led “primarily by former national team players,” with gold medallists Christine Sinclair and Stephanie Labbe “contributing to the planning and development of the league.”

“The creation of this league is something we have been advocating for over many years, and to be part of seeing it come to fruition is truly exciting,” said Labbe, the Whitecaps’ general manager of women’s soccer. “We look forward to working with stakeholders across the Canadian soccer environment to make this league successful.”

It's important that women are building the league, said Sinclair.

"We are committed to developing something that is built differently, for women by women,” she said. "We want to change the soccer landscape in Canada so women’s players can develop and play professionally here at home instead of having to go abroad, as every one of our national team players must do now to be successful.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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