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.

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Gender & Coaching Part II: Access, Mentorship, Support, Awareness

A few weeks ago I wrote about alarming trends in the USA around gender and coaching, as documented by Pat Griffin in “College Athletics’ War on Women Coaches”. This follow-up won’t be a blueprint of gender equity for soccer in Ontario, but simply a nudge/challenge towards awareness.

As a competitive soccer player in Ontario throughout the 1990s (and up until my transition from competitive to recreational in the 2000s) the trend has been for men to own, operate, dominate, and determine the terms of soccer. At the time, everywhere I looked women were relegated to assistants (if that) and most often were administrative managers. Of course there were exceptions, but they were rare. In more recent years there has been a push by the OSA (Ontario Soccer Association) and particularly progressive clubs in Ontario to train and hire women coaches (see: Female Mentorship Program) but their agency and power can be in a silo or be met with hostility.

Besides CAAWS (Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity) there aren’t sports associations and/or organizations solely dedicated to pushing for gender equity in sport either here [Ontario] or across the country. There are great examples of sport associations integrating equity policies (see Canada Basketball) but when it comes to soccer in Ontario, power is centralized and dominated by a few – and these few all know each other.

So what to do?

Individually, women need to get their credentials by doing their coaching certifications, which certainly costs but there are funds that can help (see: OSA Funds, CAO Funds). By having your credentials, you are able to work within the system if that’s what you choose. More importantly, coaching courses help to raise the level of visibility of women in sport and support individual confidence and leadership skills.

In terms of advocacy and support, we all have a responsibility to mentor, create learning opportunities and support women who are pursuing coaching and/or entrepreneur projects. Being more conscious about where we spend our money, and how sport functions are key too. If we can have women referees and women coaches, why not make this an ordinary choice instead of out-of-the-ordinary? Seeing women as capable and qualified is HUGE.

At some point an analysis of the gender and sexuality spectrum (i.e. transgender, genderqueer, gender non-conforming people, lesbian, bisexual, queer), race/racism and class/poverty needs to come through. What good is gender equity if it isn’t intersectional? What good is advocating for women if this only benefits white-straight women? What good is access if it, in actuality, only exists for those with money and social capital/networks?

I’ve seen one too many times how ego, arrogance, ignorance and a lack of diversity and inclusion punishes so many knowledgeable and talented coaches. Hell, even among somewhat progressive women there is resistance to breaking-down social cliques and hierarchies in sport. But change is doable, and it starts with individuals willing to advocate for each other. When the time comes for you to do this, will you be ready? I hope so.

Canada Basketball

Over the last few months, there’s been so much focus, and varying opinions, about Canadian basketball players. This attention has culminated around the likes of Anthony Bennett and, more recently, Andrew Wiggins. (For a refresher about Bennett,click here, and Wiggins, click here).

Other Canadians that have garnered some media buzz are Tyler Ennis (drafted by the Phoenix Suns), Kelly Olynyk (plays for the Boston Celtics), and Tristan Thompson (plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers). And of course there’s Steve Nash, 2 time NBA MVP, and current General Manager of the Senior Men’s Canadian National Basketball Team, who is one of the most famous and successful Canadian basketball players ever.

Where is the attention for Canadian women basketball players in all of this? On the fringes.

It was recently announced that Canada Basketball will be hosting the 2015 FIBA (Fédération Internationale de Basketball) Americas Championship for Women. The tournament will be played in Edmonton and will determine who qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Unfamiliar with our Senior Women’s National Basketball Team roster? Check them out here, which can be followed up with Doug Smith’s blog, Toronto Star’s veteran sportswriter, who comments that “the fact the FIBA Americas 2015 Olympic women’s qualifier is going to be in Edmonton really is big news”. Indeed, exciting stuff.