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Sports Canadian keeper Stephanie Labbe joins a men’s league

05:37  14 march  2018
05:37  14 march  2018 Source:   thestar.com

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Stephanie Labbe is taking her career into her own hands — and possibly into a men ’ s league . The 31-year-old Canadian women’s team goalkeeper, who has earned 49 caps, announced on her personal blog Monday that she is trying out for Calgary Foothills FC’s men ’ s under-23 team, which plays in the

Canadian keeper Stephanie Labbe joins a men ’ s league . The PDL told The Canadian Press in a statement that, “like virtually all of our peer leagues around the world, the PDL has gender-based eligibility requirements, which we applied consistently in this case.

Stephanie Labbe went looking for a new job after a falling out with the NWSL’s Washington Spirit.© Alexandre Schneider Stephanie Labbe went looking for a new job after a falling out with the NWSL’s Washington Spirit.

Stephanie Labbe is taking her career into her own hands — and possibly into a men’s league.

The 31-year-old Canadian women’s team goalkeeper, who has earned 49 caps, announced on her personal blog Monday that she is trying out for Calgary Foothills FC’s men’s under-23 team, which plays in the Premier Development League, a third-tier league behind Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League. The teams are allowed eight players over 23.

It’s an unusual move for a female player, especially one who played at the international level as recently as last week, when she started between the posts for Canada in two matches at the Algarve Cup. When most of her fellow national team members left that tournament to join their National Women’s Soccer League teams in the United States, or to clubs in Europe, Labbe made the move to Calgary. While she hasn’t officially cracked the Foothills’ roster, she considers herself all in.

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Labbé joined the University of Connecticut and the women's soccer team in the second semester of 2004. Labbé emerged as the top keeper in 2005 and played every minute of the last three games of the "Female athletes blow whistle on soccer league for barring Stephanie Labbe from men ' s team".

I called a bunch of coaches in men ’ s soccer. They told me that there was no way I was ever going to play on a men ’ s team. So I quit and joined a soccer team with a bunch of my girlfriends. He told me that when he went to chat with league officials about signing me, he got nothing but pushback.

“I just know that it’s the right fit,” she told the Star on Tuesday.

Labbe spent the last two seasons with the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, but the relationship was not always easy. Labbe lost her starting job in 2016 after helping Canada to bronze at the Rio Olympics. She was replaced again last season after starting the team’s first 16 games. Labbe, who has been candid about her struggles with depression, announced in September that she would miss the remainder of the season due to a medical leave of absence, at the time calling it a decision made “with great difficulty.” The Spirit held onto the goalkeeper’s NWSL rights until mid-February.

Labbe was unable to join to any other NWSL clubs until then and, though she had played five years in Sweden earlier, she didn’t feel going back to Europe was the right move. So she got on the phone last fall, looking for a men’s program that might be willing to take her on.

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Stephanie Labbé , an Olympic medallist, qualified for a men ’ s team before the league rejected her – but she hasn’t given up the fight. Despite the uncertainty now looming over her career, she said she had no regrets about her attempt to join the men ’ s league .

CALGARY — Canadian women’s goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe has been denied a chance to play for the Calgary Foothills FC men ’ s soccer team by the league citing her gender. Labbe has earned 49 caps for Canada and helped the women’s team win an Olympic bronze in Rio in 2016.

Some of the reactions, Labbe said, were “what you might expect” when it comes to a woman interested in testing herself in the men’s game. But Labbe was asking to be judged on her skill, not her gender.

“I’m not a female soccer player, I’m just a soccer player,” she said.

She connect with Tommy Wheeldon Jr., the technical director at Calgary Foothills, in mid-January, calling him “a bright light at a forward thinking club.” Labbe began training with the team for a week before Portugal and has picked it up again since her return from the national team.

As she tries to lock down a roster spot before the PDL season opens in May, she’s focused on getting used to the speed of play on the men’s side of the sport, the pace of the shots, and the fact that at five-foot-seven, she’s smaller than a lot of her teammates and opponents. Coming for crosses in the box, she said, is a little different when the players coming at you have at something like 30 pounds on you.

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Canadian soccer goaltender Stephanie Labbe has been barred from playing for Calgary Foothills FC in the Premier Development League because she The Calgary team welcomed her with open arms, but in a May 1 post on her website she wrote that the league wouldn’t allow her to play: “The PDL is a

Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe joins Calgary Foothills' men ' s @USLPDL team. (Club also operates a women's team in @UWSSoccer).

“I’ve spent off-seasons training with men,” Labbe said. “Now it’s about maintaining that for an entire season.”

Labbe was prepared for backlash at her decision but says she’s received mostly positive reaction. She maintains that this is not a move meant for everybody.

While Labbe says her national team coaches might have some concerns that she might not get enough games or games at the highest level, she’s prepared to do everything she can to make sure that happens.

“I am a realist, and understand that entering the men’s game may prove to be more of a challenge than I am capable of,” she wrote Monday. “This also could be one of the most rewarding risks I have taken in my career, and may open other people’s minds about their open possibilities. I’m choosing the latter.”

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