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Canadian winger Janine Beckie advocating for growth in both society and the beautiful game

The CanWNT and Man City star spoke 1-on-1 with WTR about the NWSL Challenge Cup as well as the current events impacting the U.S. and the world as a whole

Canadian winger Janine Beckie (16) raises her arms during the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.
(Canada Soccer)

ST. JOHN’S, Canada— Growing up in Colorado in a committed Christian family has taught Janine Beckie that she’s “not supposed to live in fear.”

Beckie’s on-field bravery is a secret to few fans of the women’s game thanks to her strong showings out wide both for Canada and Manchester City.

While her faith has helped shape her into the footballer she is today, her beliefs have been more influential than ever as she sympathizes with those currently suffering across the country.

“I think it shapes my views on what’s going on, it shapes my feelings,” Beckie told Waking the Red. “And in that sense, I feel very heartbroken for what’s going on.”

Between the Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to spread across North America, Beckie struggles to recall a time with so much strife.

“We see how it has just absolutely destroyed people’s lives and it’s scary and it’s sad and it’s humbling in a sense because it’s something that has affected the whole world and in my lifetime, I’ve never experienced that.”

As a Canadian-American dual-citizen, the 25-year-old wants to play her part as best she can to help support the ongoing fight against systemic racism across the continent.

While she’s aware of the impact her words can have given the platform athletes have today, she admits it can be a daunting task to try and properly sum things up.

“I want to do things that will help make a continual change,” said Beckie. “But also, like everyone else, I’m trying to navigate my way through it and it’s difficult because you don’t want to say the wrong things when you’re trying to articulate your feelings.”

“I can empathize but I could never understand and really put myself in their shoes and that’s a situation that I think a lot of people find themselves in.”

As the former Texas Tech soccer star continues to learn about the impact she can have on the cause, there’s one simple starting point she’s ready to take advantage of.

“I’m obviously a dual citizen and I have never voted, and I’ve never felt more guilt about that” said Beckie. “So I’ve registered to vote, I’m going to vote this year, and I feel excited about that and I need to educate myself more.”

With so much going on in society right now, sports has became an after thought at times, particularly with many leagues still at a standstill.

Amidst the whirlwind of news in the past month came the announcement of the NWSL returning to play at the end of June.

The ‘2020 NWSL Challenge Cup’ will be one of the first team sports leagues in North America to get back to action when things kick off in Utah in a neutral-site tournament on June 27th.

Beckie has several ties with the league having previously played for two different NWSL teams (Houston Dash and Sky Blue FC) before heading to England to suit up for the Cityzens.

With many of her current teammates from the Canadian national team still playing their club soccer in the league, she’s eagerly awaiting the return of the women’s game in a couple of weeks time.

“I’ve texted so many of my teammates just asking how they’re doing and just saying I’m really excited to watch you play” said the Man City starlet. “And for a fan of the women’s game, it’s like a perfect scenario because you’ve got loads of games in this time.. so that’ll be really fun.”

Over in England, the 2020 Women’s Super League season has already been cancelled. As a result, Manchester City and Beckie have become but spectators of the beautiful game for the time being.

With more spare time than she’s used to, the media and communications major is trying to take the opportunity to hone the skills she acquired in the classroom.

As a former NWSL player and a current national teammate of some of the league’s brightest stars, she isn’t ruling out providing some coverage of the challenge cup herself.

The key for Beckie personally is finding the balance between continuing to discuss sports while remaining mindful of what soccer means in the current climate.

“I’ve been really quiet on my YouTube channel and relatively quiet on my social media,” Beckie said of her presence behind the screen of late. “There’s a lot going on in the world right now and I’m trying to find my place in that and where I can find my voice and make a difference and help.

“But if me doing some coverage of the NWSL tournament is a light in some hard times, then I would absolutely love to do something.”

Between previous clubs and Canadian teammates, Beckie admits were she to provide analysis on the NWSL return to action, her bias might be hard to mask in some matches.

“I might get in trouble here but obviously I cheer for every team that has one of my national teammates on it,” Beckie said with a laugh. “I would also love to see my old clubs do well, I have a special place in my heart for Houston and New Jersey and I would be really excited to see them both be really successful.”

Ultimately, her ambition to help grow the women’s game as a whole is what excites her most about promoting the upcoming tournament.

“I just want to see the league grow and I think this is such a great opportunity to get new fans of the NWSL and just the women’s game in general.”

“Obviously, we’re going to be (women’s football) one of the first North American team sports that comes back, so it’s a great opportunity to showcase women’s soccer in this country and in Canada.”

As the game she loves dearly nears its return, Beckie isn’t losing sight of the big picture.

While she’s been inspired by the some of the progress that’s been made so far, she remains focused on playing her part in fighting back against the discrimination so many across the world face daily.

“There have been so many uplifting stories and so much change that has already happened but we can’t just let our foot off the gas and so I’m trying to do what I can, having the necessary conversations and really advocating for change.”