Canadian star footballer fights gender discrimination

The 31-year-old Olympic bronze medallist first qualified for a North American men's team, but was later told that she couldn't be able to play, because of her gender.

Stephanie Labbe of Canada giving instructions during the bronze medal match against Brazil at Rio Olympics, 2016.   -  Getty Images

Stephanie Labbé first qualified for a North American men's team, but was later told that she couldn't be able to play, because of her gender.

The Olympic bronze medallist of Canada, has been trying to earn a place at the Calgary Foothills Soccer Club, part of the Premier Development League in North America.

“It has nothing to do with my ability, the fact that I have proven myself or that a coach has seen me train and believes I can compete in this league. It’s some other guys who are just basing it on my gender and that’s it,” the 31-year-old goalkeeper was quoted as saying to The Guardian.

Canada does not have a women's professional league and after parting ways with Washington Spirit football club, Labbé had been on the look out for a men's team to develop her game.

“I knew that the level of play here is strong. I knew it would challenge me on a daily basis,” she told The Guardian.

After pursuing various clubs, it was the Calgary Foothills club, where its technical director said of taking her if she proved her mettle during the trials.

“So that’s exactly what I did. And now the league has come back to us and said no. You’re a female and this is a male league,” she said.

For Labbé, the response from the team was shocking and disappointing. “I just assumed that we were a little more forward-thinking than that. And that we wouldn’t be making these decisions based on gender,” she added.

However, Calgary’s Foothills Soccer Club said that they are still looking at ways to get in Labbé. “The club is looking into ways around this to support Steph staying,” Tommy Wheeldon Jr, the club’s technical director, said in a statement.

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