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Young London soccer players watch with glee as Canada defeats Ireland at World Cup


When the final goal securing Canada’s win against Ireland was scored, the cheering was frenzied inside the BMO Centre in London, Ont., where a group of young players gathered to watch the game Wednesday morning.

Members of the girls NorWest Soccer Club, where starter Jessie Fleming used to train, were at the soccer club to catch the FIFA Women’s World Cup game when it started at 8 a.m.

It was a tense match with Canada victorious against Ireland 2 -1, increasing the team’s hopes of advancing in the tournament.

“It makes me feel happy and think that I can do it. I have a soccer game today so watching this gets me pumped up for it and feel strong,” NorWest player Charlotte Lawrence said.

friends and family of soccer players
Friends and family of NorWest soccer players gathered at the BMO Centre to watch Canada play Ireland for FIFA Women’s World Cup. (Mike Lacasse/CBC News)

It was also a great moment for her friend Addison Skeggs, who hopes that enough momentum builds from Canada’s win to encourage other girls to join the sport.

“Not a lot of women play soccer and most people think that only men can play certain sports which is kinda sad,” Skeggs said.

Both girls were pumped for their game later in the day and were also excited to see Fleming in action.

“I like her because she’s really good,” Lawrence said, while Skeggs added that a friend of her family coached Fleming at NorWest years ago.

A woman soccer player is lifted by a teammate in celebration of a goal.
Canada’s forward #19 Adriana Leon (R) celebrates with her teammates after scoring her team’s second goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women’s World Cup Group B football match between Canada and Ireland at Perth Rectangular Stadium in Perth on July 26, 2023. (Photo by Colin MURTY / AFP) (Photo by COLIN MURTY/AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

The importance of showing young girls that they can be involved in sports and succeed cannot be understated, said Jenn Jaquith, the Executive Director at NorWest Optimist Soccer Club.

“They just have to see it to identify with it. Project 8 with Diana Matheson is coming and these kids have a distinct chance of getting there. There’s four 16-year-olds playing in the Women’s World Cup this year. That’s not very far away for these guys,” Jaquith said.

Project 8 is a group that is working on creating Canada’s first women’s soccer league by 2025. It is being spearheaded by four-time World Cup veteran Diane Matheson and has already received official league recognition from Canada Soccer.

NorWest soccer is the only local girls house league program, so many future potential professional players from the area will most likely go through them first, she said.

“The Canadian National standard is 70 per cent of all kids quit sports by the time they’re 13. Twice as many females drop out as males. There aren’t a lot of them getting through. So we work hard to bring them back and work for sport for life,” she said.

jenn jaquith
Jenn Jaquith is the Executive Director of NorWest Soccer but she prefers to refer to herself as its caretaker. She would like to see more girls get into the sport. (Mike Lacasse/CBC News)

Jaquith also encourages parents and older teenage girls to get involved with coaching and as referees in the sport and act as role models in the younger girls’ lives. It can be the difference between them sticking through or quitting, she said.

“We are just excited to bring this to the community as a beginning of layering the culture of women’s soccer and Canada soccer to kids that probably haven’t experienced it before.”


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