Two hundred young girls in Edmonton had the chance to play alongside professional soccer players this weekend.
The girls, decked out in pink jerseys, hit the field at the Clareview Community Recreation Centre on Sunday for FIFA's Live Your Goals, a festival targeted at young female soccer players.
Brittany Baxter, who plays on the Canadian Women’s National soccer team, was on hand giving advice to the many players in attendance.
Baxter has fond memories of playing in Edmonton in 2002, when the city hosted the Under-19 World Cup final between Canada and the United States. It marked the first youth FIFA tournament for women, a pivotal moment in the sport.
“I remember it really well,” Baxter said. “I remember my parents and my brothers were able to drive down and were at the final. I remember just hearing the anthem and just looking around and getting goosebumps.
Baxter says the women’s soccer has come along way, and has only grown in popularity, especially in Canada.
“It’s just steadily grown since ,” Baxter said. “I think now whenever we host a game in Canada, people get excited.”
Edmonton will host the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in August, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015.
The Live Your Goals festival has managed to get young players like Bianca Granados excited about the events — and meeting the players that will star in the tournaments.
“It’s so cool,” she said.
Carole Holt, with Alberta Soccer, says the event shows Granados and other players that they could one day too be professional soccer players.
“For these players to actually go out and see players like Brittany Baxter, Avery Lakeman and other Canadians play here in Edmonton, it makes it real for them.”