Let's Make Every Play Count | The Football Culture Landscape

After my recent chat with Coach Steph about the upcoming introduction of female flag football to high schools in Ottawa, I've been feeling a mix of excitement and contemplation. It's sparked some deep thinking about the state of women's sports in Canada. While we've made significant progress in increasing female participation and raising the profile of women in sports, there are still some significant hurdles, particularly when it comes to leadership roles. Have you ever stopped to think about how many female coaches you've had compared to male coaches? It's an interesting question, isn't it? But rather than dwelling on the reasons why, let's focus on what the future could look like. Shaking up the leadership game is key to driving real change. Leaders set the tone, shape the culture, and pave the way for the next generation of players. So, let's challenge ourselves to step up and envision ourselves as coaches, officials, and ambassadors.

These roles? They're being built up for us by people like Ottawa Women’s Football Co-founders and many more just like them.

Female leaders in sports—referees, coaches, administrators, and executives—have the power to shake things up and make a real difference. Firstly, they're living proof that we can achieve anything we set our minds to. By demonstrating excellence, integrity, and unwavering passion for their work, they shatter stereotypes and pave the way for others to follow. But it doesn't stop there. They're also uniquely positioned to advocate for equality in sports, pushing for equal pay, opportunities, and resources for all athletes, coaches, and officials. And let's talk about inclusivity. Not just as a buzzword, but as a genuine commitment to ensuring that everyone can bring their authentic selves to the field. These leaders spearhead efforts to ensure that everyone feels welcome and valued, regardless of their background.

Now, let's address the elephant in the room—discrimination and harassment. It's a problem that seems never ending, plain and simple. But here's the thing: we can do something about it. By putting clear policies in place up front, providing training, and fostering a culture of respect and accountability for parents and players alike, female leaders and their proteges can work collaboratively to create safer and more supportive environments for all of us, at home and away. Don't be afraid to speak up and make a change. 

It's not just about seeing something and saying something—it's about doing something.

Sure, stepping into a leadership role takes time and commitment, but trust me, it's worth it. And when we choose to mentor and support other females who are striving to lead, we're not just talking about representation—we're building a whole new culture that meets the needs of females in sports.

Now, let's set the record straight—I'm not suggesting that men shouldn't hold leadership positions in sports. Their passion, expertise, and enthusiasm can greatly contribute to the success of female sports teams. However, they shouldn't dominate prominent roles where talent and passion exist among a pool of qualified females with extreme capacity. Instead, as we step into more prominent roles ourselves, perhaps we can consider shifting them into positions where they can excel without overshadowing us. This way, they can still contribute to the cultural and organizational change that is needed in sports. As we gear up for the 2028 Olympics and the thrilling debut of flag football on the global stage, let's seize this moment to champion female leadership in sports. By advocating for diversity, inclusivity, and equal opportunities, we can create a sports world that's fair and empowering for everyone.

To my fellow female athletes and sports enthusiasts, I'm throwing down the gauntlet. It's time to step up and take charge. Talk to your coaches, take the lead among your peers, become an official, and sign up for those courses on coach.ca. It's not just about having the skills—it's about having the passion and drive to lead the way. Together, let's smash through those barriers and build a future where women aren't just players on the field, but leaders in every aspect of the game and beyond.

Jules Mckercher

Julie Mckercher
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