Joy Drop: Young star, Canadians highlight NWSL championship weekend

CBC Sports Senior Contributor Shireen Ahmed's weekly roundup of the things that struck her from the week that was.

CBC Sports' senior contributor Shireen Ahmed on the week's happier moments

NWSL League MVP Sophia Smith, left, leads the Portland Thorns into Saturday's championship final against the Kansas City Current. (Getty Images)

Friends, it's hard to believe that we are almost at the end of October! The year is winding down and we are still capturing and enjoying so much goodness. 

This NWSL season has showcased so much Canadian talent and it was excellent to hear that Canada's Kailen Sheridan of the San Diego Wave was named the NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year. Sheridan's playing is on target and we're looking forward to seeing her in the Women's World Cup next summer. 

The Portland Thorns star and USWNT striker Sophia Smith was named the youngest league MVP in NWSL history. The 22-year-old is incredible to watch and has an energy that is captivating. The final is set to take place on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET between the Portland Thorns and the Kansas City Current. 

Smith will no doubt be in the starting XI. The magnitude of her win was not lost on her and Smith humbly said: "I mean it's surreal, it still really hasn't hit me."

USWNT player Alex Morgan took home the Golden Boot for the most goals scored (15) during the season.

Shireen Ahmed and Rumeeza Khan. (Submitted by Mark Strong)

October is Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario and as such, I am invited to schools in Southern Ontario to present or speak on my work and contributions to the community.

This week, I had the pleasure of visiting Edenwood Middle School where my dear friend, Rumeeza Khan, is a teacher. She facilitated my visit and curated the display boards in the school.

I spoke to the students about my journey in sports and sports media and how Muslim women have contributed to many spaces. I also fielded many questions as to why I prefer Messi to Ronaldo, but the students were excellent and engaged. Thank you to educators like Ms. Khan all across the country who share their culture and faith with their students in such a generous manner.

Representation has always mattered and we can not emphasize the importance of youth needing to be nurtured, respected and listened to. 

Shireen Ahmed with students at Edenwood Middle School in Mississauga. (Submitted by Mark Strong)

Youth are always watching and being inspired and ignited.  The moment when Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets hears that Toronto Raptors' Christian Koloko wears No. 35 in honour of him is fantastic to watch. Durant's smile is beautiful and I laughed when he said "I'm getting old!"

But the impact that players have on their league-mates and those coming up is incredible. I have watched that about 10 times and enjoy it every time. 

I had a real moment of joy and pride when my friend and CBC Sports colleague Devin Heroux stopped by my Sports Journalism class at Toronto Metropolitan University this week to share his experience and his insight into the industry. The students were captivated by him and the hour flew by. It was a blast!

This past week communities celebrated Diwali and the festivities were sparkling and beautiful. I hope everyone celebrating had an excellent time and reveled in joy.

I thoroughly enjoyed the memes on social media spoofing Spirit Halloween Store.  The store replied with its own parody of the parodies. It was excellent. 

I hope everyone has a safe and delicious Halloween! I will be buying candy on sale on Monday. 


Shireen Ahmed

Senior Contributor

Shireen Ahmed is a multi-platform sports journalist, a TEDx speaker, mentor, and an award-winning sports activist who focuses on the intersections of racism and misogyny in sports. She is an industry expert on Muslim women in sports, and her academic research and contributions have been widely published. She is co-creator and co-host of the “Burn It All Down” feminist sports podcast team. In addition to being a seasoned investigative reporter, her commentary is featured by media outlets in Canada, the USA, Europe and Australia. She holds an MA in Media Production from Toronto Metropolitan University where she now teaches Sports Journalism and Sports Media. You can find Shireen tweeting or drinking coffee, or tweeting about drinking coffee. She lives with her four children and her cat.

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