Ottawa team likely in new pro women's soccer league, expert says

A new Canadian professional women's soccer league plans to establish at least one team in Ontario. One expert says the nation's capital should field one of the eight teams when the league launches in a few years.

New league looks to secure 8 teams across the country in the next few months

Two women sit on chairs on an empty soccer field.
Canadian soccer legend Christine Sinclair, left, and former teammate Diana Matheson, seen above during an interview with CBC News' Adrienne Arsenault, announced Monday that a professional women’s league will launch in Canada in 2025. (CBC)

A new Canadian professional women's soccer league plans to establish at least one team in Ontario. One expert says the nation's capital should field one of the eight teams when the league launches in a few years.

The league, which was announced by Canadian soccer legend Christine Sinclair, former national team player Diana Matheson and her business partners at Project 8 Sports Inc., hopes to launch in 2025.

The league already has two teams secured in Western Canada and is now looking for six more in the next six months. 

"We've been doing a lot of preliminary calls with ownership groups where we had connections," Matheson said. "John Pugh … [and] I have connections from the Ottawa Fury days and he's aware of the plans." 

Matheson said the league hopes to have at least one team in a major Ontario city. 

Marie-Ève Nault, a former national team member who played for the Ottawa Fury women's team in the early 2000s, said the creation of a women's league in Canada is long overdue. 

"We have so many good players but they're all overseas," she said. 

One soccer player slides to try to take the ball away from another.
Canada defender Marie-Eve Nault, left, tackles France forward Elodie Thomis during the bronze medal soccer game at the Olympic Games in the United Kingdom Aug. 9, 2012. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Ottawa would be a great market 

Nault said there is interest in Ottawa for a professional women's soccer team and she believes the fan base exists. 

"It would be a great market," she said. "Every time there's a women's national team game, the stadium is packed and fans are ... so excited to be a part of it. So I think they would be excited to have a team of their own."

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Marie-Ève Nault said a Canadian professional women's soccer league in Canada is long overdue.

Terry Vida, president of local soccer organization Ottawa TFC, said it's time for girls in Canada to dream of playing competitive soccer at home. 

"This is very exciting news because it gives girls that goal," she said. 

"Ottawa economically is a very stable city. We do have good sponsorships that we can reach into so I think it's a very, very good market."

Team Thailand bows towards fans after being defeated 4-0 by Team Norway during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. Ottawa hosted nine of the tournament's games. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

National team member Clarissa Larisey, an Ottawa native playing for Celtic F.C. in Scotland, said playing at home would be "amazing."

"I think that there's going to be a lot more opportunities for some people in Canada, whereas, obviously, when I was younger, I had to go elsewhere. So I think it would be really great," she said.

Women's team won't hurt other pro teams, expert says

Concordia University economics professor Moshe Lander said "probably it's a given" Ottawa would be one of the eight teams, along with the six other cities that have NHL teams — Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg — and Halifax, which he said has a very strong soccer fan base. 

"I could probably name what those eight teams are now with very little effort," he said.

If the Ottawa team has affordable ticket prices and shares the space at TD Place with the professional men's team, Atletico Ottawa, there's no reason it can't build a fan base in the capital.

Fans raise red and white striped scarves that say FOR OTTAWA.
Atletico Ottawa fans raise their team scarves before the Canadian Premier League final in Ottawa Oct. 30, 2022, which drew about 15,000 people. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

"It's not going to cannibalize any of the other existing teams that are there," he said. 

Lander said the women's league will need to better define itself as a whole if it wants to survive a competitive professional women's soccer landscape. 


Sarah Kester


Sarah Kester is a reporter at CBC in Ottawa. She can be reached at

With files from Radio-Canada's Jonathan Jobin