By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
Local women’s soccer will be getting more attention this season as Oshawa is joining the League1 Ontario women’s league.
Oshawa Kicks Soccer Club (OKSC) and FC Durham Academy teamed up in order to bring League1 Ontario to the city under the banner of FC Oshawa.
Oshawa is one of three teams to join League1 in 2019, as Oshawa South United will be joined by Alliance United in the women’s league.
Founded in 2014, League1 Ontario is entering its sixth season. In 2018 the league had grown to 17 teams, including a women’s division.
According to the press release from FC Oshawa, “League1 Ontario is the only Pro-Am, standards based, senior league in Ontario.”
“As an organization we’re extremely excited to be able to offer the program to young females moving through the system,” says Elizabeth McCaw, FC Oshawa general manager and OKSC executive director.
“I was a high performance player growing up, and that opportunity to see the next level wasn’t there. We went through our youth system, you got to play in college and university, but there wasn’t really anything for you if you still had the ambition to potentially have a professional career,” McCaw explains.
McCaw graduated from the sport management program at Durham College in 2003, where she played on the women’s soccer team.
She even did her sports management internship at the Durham College Athletic Centre under upcoming Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame inductee Ken Babcock.
She says Kicks has had a relationship with League1 Ontario for a while, as they hosted a number of league games around 2015.
“That gave us an opportunity to highlight the Oshawa Civic Stadium and the facilities we have here in the city, as well as the operations of our game day,” McCaw states.
McCaw also notes, “Our staff has all touched and breathed League1, which made it an easy transition for us to apply for the license because a lot of the management group at League1 already knows us.”
According to McCaw, Oshawa has a number of outstanding players, and two of them who came through the OKSC system will be joining FC Oshawa – Cailee Long, who is currently playing for McMaster University, and Simone Chiodo, who is playing for Eastern Michigan University.
“[They are] both very talented players who have come through the full Oshawa Kicks system,” says McCaw. “So they were with us at under 10, and have gone through every stage, and it’s exciting to us to be able to give them a platform when they come home from university this summer.”
Rich Hirst, the assistant coach for FC Oshawa, girl’s academy manager and girl’s director of coaching U15-U18, says FC Durham and OKSC started meeting about two years ago, and noted they would discuss different things they could work on together.
“We hired a goalkeeper coach for both organizations,” says Hirst. “We then started exploring operation supplemental training programs, camps and clinics, etc.”
He believes having FC Oshawa on board will provide role models for younger female players.
He points out children will often try to mimic their role models.
Hirst believes having positive role models such as the players on FC Oshawa will give the children looking up to them someone to model themselves after.