Inaugural Canadian women's professional league set for 2025

Diana Matheson
Diana Matheson won an Olympic bronze medal in 2012

Former Canada international Diana Matheson and current captain Christine Sinclair are behind plans for Canada's first professional women's league.

The new eight-team league is due to begin in April 2025.

"We want to change the soccer landscape in Canada," Sinclair told TSNexternal-link.

"We believe it is important that women build this league, and we are committed to developing something that is built differently, for women by women."

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Calgary Foothills are the first two teams to sign up to the competition, with more expected to follow suit next year.

At present most of the Canadian national team, who are seventh in the world rankings, play abroad.

Sinclair currently plays for National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) club Portland Thorns in the US.

She added: "Women 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."

The national team's best achievement was winning gold at the 2020 Olympics, while their best World Cup finish was fourth place in 2003.

According to The Nationalexternal-linkthere are over 100 Canadian women players playing abroad, while of the 25 international players called up in November, only three play in Canada.

The current squad includes Chelsea's Jessie Fleming, Tottenham Hotspur's Shelina Zadorsky and Paris St-Germain's Ashley Lawrence.

The other six teams who will be involved in the inaugural season are expected to be announced in 2023. Each team in the new league will have at least one Canadian international competing for them.

Matheson, who retired in 2021, and her business partner Thomas Gilbert, are launching the yet unnamed league under the banner Project 8.

"It's time to change the narrative and inspire the next group," said Matheson, capped 206 times for her country.

"I believe kids need to see it to believe that it's possible to happen. With the launch of this league, they will be able to go into their own backyard and watch their heroes play and dream of one day representing their hometown professional club and maybe representing Canada."

The new Canadian women's league follows Italy's Serie A, who announced it would be fully professional from the 2022-23 season.

England's Women's Super (WSL) League became professional in 2018 and France and Spain also have professional women's leagues.

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