Janine Beckie is helping Canada take another step towards its own professional women’s soccer league.
As first reported by the Toronto Star, the Canadian national soccer team forward became a minority owner with the Simcoe County Rovers FC, an Ontario League1 club with its sights set on turning pro.
Canada is the only country among FIFA’s top 10 without a professional women’s soccer league.
“Whether I’m a player or part of an ownership group, I definitely want to have a voice in that and hold people to high standards, because that’s the only way we’re going to make strides,” the Manchester City striker told the Toronto Star.
While League1 is a second tier for men’s soccer in the country, it’s currently the top for women.
According to Beckie, the Rovers are not the highest level the country wants to see, but it’s a move in the right direction.
“You don’t go from zero to 100,” the 27-year-old said. “That’s why I’m really excited about being a part of this project, because this is one of those stepping stones.”
Beckie was recruited by president and managing partner Julian de Guzman, who reached out to her last year, calling her “the perfect role model for the future of women’s soccer in Canada.”
De Guzman also recruited Canadian players Cyle Larin and Doneil Henry as minority owners of the club.
With home matches being played at J.C. Massie Field in Barrie, Rovers FC is expected to make their debut, for both men and women, in the spring. They were declared a League1 Ontario expansion club in October 2021 after acquiring the license of Aurora FC.
Georgian College’s stadium, with a capacity of 1,200, will offer good exposure for the potential of women’s professional soccer in Canada.
“If we want the sport to continue to grow in our country, young girls have to see their idols and their peers playing the game at a high level,” said Beckie.