OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR SOCCER GIRLS - by Vidhi Gupta -Writer, Sports Strategist
The last two decades on this side of the continent have seen the popularity of soccer grow with a velocity that signals the beginning of a serious movement.
And while the football mania out here is nothing like the secular religiosity of futbol in the South, its the local clubs where the underpinnings of this movement can be witnessed – where passionate soccer athletes are being trained and moulded everyday – and many are on their way to becoming household names.
More and more girls want to play soccer. At the locus of this progression is the need for an unbiased system that is designed to support the training of female athletes at every level - developmental, competitive and professional.
Established in 1971, Clarkson Soccer Club is a renowned club based out of Mississauga, Ontario that has served as an institution for many generations of both male and female soccer athletes. Their training programs have been in the vanguard of advancing the sport locally and internationally, churning out many a great players such as Lucas Cavalini, Jonathan Osorio, Carrie Serwetnyk and most recently three of Clarkson’s Bu18 players are showcasing their talents in Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, Brazil.
At the heart of the success of their programs is the philosophy of respecting the individual stage and style of each player, while providing all-round support to the player at each stage to achieve improvement. This is what sets them apart from other big clubs and it is a practice cultivated from the get-go. Players in the girls’ rep programs start training at ages as young as six and seven. And with the combined efforts of the trainers, coaches and technical staff, they are then trained and conditioned to become ‘total athletes’. Ricardo Isgro, Clarkson SC’s Technical Director is developing a program to help “promote success amongst the girls and not focusing on Canada’s limitations for advancement abroad”.
The parameters of the development process are based on technical as well as professional goals. What makes the latter valuable, and therefore crucial to the advancement of female athletes, is that the process is not capped off with just periodized training but involves providing a platform to the girls to showcase their talent and compete at international levels.
This season, the Clarkson girls U-17 team is travelling to Barcelona, Spain to compete against various professional clubs such as Barcelona FC and RCD Espanyol de Barcelona in friendlies in the presence of international scouts.
“The girls are trained with the same intensity and held to the same standards as the boys but opportunities abroad are limited compared to the boys ,” said Ricardo Isgro, when asked about the challenges that girls have to face at the competitive level. As we discussed the issues, achievements and club-level soccer’s ideals and realities, he also described Clarkson’s efforts across the years to open new doors to female players from Ontario.
“Our Executive, Technical and Leadership Teams are motivated to work hard to promote these girls so that they are recognized and can achieve the success that they are looking for”. We have some amazing female players and we hope to support their dreams to play at a professional level, through our strategically designed training program, exposure as part of a Travel Team and the Club’s established connections internationally.
The optimism that rings in his words is not only aspirational but is ingrained in the club’s past achievements and plans for the upcoming seasons.
As an influential Canadian soccer club with ties across the border, Clarkson provides vocational training programs and has a scholarship program for the girls’ teams where they have the opportunity to win scholarships to universities in the States.
The soccer movement in North America is growing out of its adolescence, and it is the committed efforts of established and motivated clubs like Clarkson that give us hope about the future when the next generation of female athletes is set to compete and proudly represent Canada.