Olympic Women’s Soccer Starts Today!

Women’s soccer kicks off a few days before the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympics with games beginning this afternoon and continuing all the way through to the evening (the full schedule can be seen at the following – take note of the time difference, all games are one hour ahead of Canada’s EST time zone: Olympic Soccer Match Schedule).

Broadcast times and providers will be shifting throughout the tournament so some soccer matches will not be aired by CBC. For the group stage of the tournament, you’ll be able to watch the Canada WNT time at the following times and on the following stations:

  • First match on 3 Aug at 14:00 ET/11:00 PT on CBC against Australia.
  • Second match against Zimbabwe is on 6 Aug at 14:00 ET/11:00 PT on CBC.
  • Final group stage match against Germany 9 Aug at 15:00 ET/12:00 PT on Sportsnet.

Since many of these games are in the daytime, those with full-time jobs will have to do some maneuvering. However for those with some flexibility, a few fun local recommendations if you are planning on watching at a bar or restaurant:

  • Cafe Diplomatico, Little Italy – an Italian institution with a large patio and a dozen television screens so you can watch from any angle. Calzones are dynamite.
  • Football Factory, Queen St W – they’ve got every channel you can imagine, a great patio and an atmosphere that is soccer 100% of the time.
  • Bairrada Churrasqueira, College St W – a favourite amongst the Portuguese community. The patio is incredible and the food is simple and delicious. Cheap booze too.
  • Tall Boys, Christie Pits – good for evening and weekend games, this restaurant is a craft beer haven with double patty burgers and a hipster atmosphere.

Something else I want to draw to your attention to is the Women’s Basketball schedule. Games begin on Saturday with twelve teams competing for gold. The Canada Basketball Women’s Team is fresh off a gold medal at the Pan American Games (I went to that one! It was UNBELIEVABLE! They are a force. Beat the Americans easily). They also recently held a few exhibition matches against top tier opponents as a last minute tune up before the Olympics. Don’t be surprised to see them more and more in the news as they are a rising force in women’s basketball.


Regent Park Film Festival Kicks Off with Love & Basketball

No words can describe how excited I am that the Regent Park Film Festival will be starting their Under the Stars outdoor screening series with Love & Basketball – one of the greatest movies ever. Gina Prince-Bythewood is the writer-director behind the genius that is this film as it captures adversity, love, sport, relationships, race and gender. It weaves together drama and romance so smoothly, and the acting is spot-on. Not to mention the soundtrack features the best tracks from the 80s and 90s. I can’t say enough about how fantastic this film is and how there is no other like it.

The main players behind the film were recently interviewed by the Huffington Post and this is what Prince-Bythewood had to say about the beginnings and the import of the film:

It was just an idea that was in my head, it was a very personal story, a lot of it is autobiographical. Growing up, ball was everything to me. I’m an athlete first and always have been, and it’s been so much a part of my life. And I just didn’t feel that I ever saw that woman or girl reflected on screen. Finally after a year and a half, [my husband Reggie, who is also a writer, and I] felt it was good enough and went out with it. Every single studio turned it down. It was devastating. I remember I had a list on my fridge of all the studios and every day crossing another one off. And I kept getting the feedback that it was “too soft,” which I just didn’t know what that meant, how is it soft? But I think part of it was also it was a film with two people of color in the lead in a love story. It wasn’t a comedy. At that time, obviously there was the success of “Boyz in the Hood” and “Menace II Society” and this was something definitely different. But again, it was what I wanted to see and what I felt we hadn’t had an opportunity to see.

If you’ve never seen the film – or it’s been a while since the first or last time you watched it – come out to Regent Park (the Big Park), 620 Dundas St. E. on Wednesday, July 13. Screening starts at 9 p.m. but consider showing up early for Taste of Regent Park, a community event that showcases food, art and culture of Regent Park every Wednesday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. CAN’T WAIT.

This Weekend in Toronto: The Canadian Sport Film Festival!

The 8th annual Canadian Sport Film Festival (CSFF) is back from May 20 – 22 with an exciting line-up of feature and short films. All screenings are being hosted at TIFF Bell Lightbox and tickets are still available for all screenings. For those of you unfamiliar with CSFF, the festival “brings together the theatre of sport and the medium of film to tell unique, provocative and passionate human stories from around the world. CSFF filmgoers are exposed to the stories beyond the scoreboard, behind the camera and told with a critical lens” (CSFF About Page).

What I love about film festivals, especially those that are local, is that they feature independent and/or grassroots filmmakers who pour their time, energy and love into the work. The results are often spectacular with film subjects being given room to reveal themselves as complex, and their circumstances as nuanced. Put simply, mainstream media just doesn’t give you the same substance and content that film festivals do.

While every film at CSFF looks amazing, a few standouts (summaries courtesy of CSFF):

EASTERN – Canada, 2016, 43 min, dir: Luke Galati
Students at a storied Toronto high school with a great basketball pedigree, four young men representing Eastern Commerce find themselves competing for the school’s last chance at championship glory. They are trying to write a memorable end to one of Canada’s most historic high school basketball programs.

IN THE TURN – US/Canada, 2015, 93 min, dir: Erica Tremblay
Crystal, a 10-year-old transgender girl growing up in northern Ontario, discovers acceptance and confidence in the world of roller derby. Her story reflects the influence of the Vagine Regime in providing a space of acceptance and empowerment for other transgender, lesbian, and queer roller derby skaters from LA and San Francisco to Austin, Brooklyn and Minneapolis.

ZANZIBAR SOCCER DREAMS – Tanzania/UK, 2016, 63 min, dir: Florence Ayisi & Catalin Brylla
Eight years after the inaugural Canadian Sport Film Festival hosted the Canadian premiere of  Zanzibar Soccer Queens, CSFF is proud to present the world premiere of its sequel. The new film highlights the progress achieved by women determined to play soccer on the island and their transition from social outcasts to ambassadors for Zanzibar. Yet, even as the school system is allowing girls to play soccer, religious, gender, and cultural challenges remain.

BOXING FOR FREEDOM – Spain, 2015, 53 min, dir: Juan Antonio Moreno & Silvia Venegas
Sadaf Rahimi and her sister, Shabnam, are the best female boxers in Afghanistan, aiming to compete in the London 2012 Olympics. But the challenges of being physically active women in their country persist.