This spring a new women’s soccer franchise will help players bridge the gap between the university and pro-am level.
Queen City United is slated to become the second Canadian team and 29th franchise to join the United Women’s Soccer League (UWSL). The team will become part of the national pro-am league and compete in the West Conference with the likes of the Calgary Foothills and LA Galaxy.
“Having a second Canadian team adds to our brand and awareness and we’re excited to expand,” UWSL Commissioner Joe Ferrara Jr. said from Ludlow, Mass.
“I would say 80 per cent are still college players, the rest would be a mix of post-collegiate and former professionals. Each team comes up with their own recipe, in terms of how to make up their own roster.”
The average age for players is between 20-23, but women as young as 15 can play. According to Saskatchewan Soccer Association, 39 per cent of all registered athletes are female.
“We have a lot of interest from players out of Saskatoon,” said Hugh Dooley, the director of club operations and head coach of Queen City United. “We’ve had players reach out from outside of B.C. and Ontario.”
“I think we will have a good homegrown contingent with some players from a few different locations.”
Ferrara Jr. and Dooley recognize the success of Calgary Foothills to attract players from the University of Regina’s soccer team to Queen City.
“That is a very interesting dynamic there in Canada that is working extremely well with Calgary at the moment,” said Ferrara. “Their coach and players are allowed to participate in the same organization during the summer and it’s been very effective model for the Foothills.”
“The Foothills are a driven organization, we have to follow those footsteps and ensure that everything we do is at the top level possible,” said Dooley.
Bob Maltman, head coach of the U of R Cougars women’s soccer team, expects his team to have a strong relationship to the new league and it will create opportunities for women to play in the province.
“I think having the United Soccer club now entering into the UWSL is going to be a tremendous boost for those women that may not see university for them but still want to play at a high level,” said Maltman.
“A product like what Queen City has I feel is a valuable jigsaw piece in our puzzle.”
The team will have a season ticket drive. Most UWSL teams attract between a few hundred to over a thousand people per game. Queen City is currently in talks with Leibel Field and FC Regina for facility use and a home field complete with locker rooms.
Taylor Bubnick, Sydney Langen and Lauren Petras of the U of R’s team see the league as a great opportunity to continue their passion for the game in the off-season, provided they make the team. All three are interested in trying out.
“To me soccer is sometimes the reason I get out of bed in the morning,” said Bubnick. “There’s nothing better than getting out on the field or showing up at a training session and being alongside 30 of your best friends.”
Langen is optimistic about the prospect of joining the team.
“One hundred per cent, I’ve already reached out to Hugh and we’ve already had discussions,” said Langen. “Sometimes over the summer you don’t get that opportunity to have games and practices in season so this is for sure going to be a good growing opportunity.”
Petras offers an outlook on how women’s soccer will evolve in the country.
“It seems like people are starting to care about female soccer in Canada,” said Petras. “I’m hoping we can advance the leagues around the national team so we can be a force in the soccer community worldwide.”
The home opener for Queen City United is tentatively scheduled for early May.