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FC Edmonton to launch women’s program

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FC Edmonton will be announcing the creation of a women’s soccer program.

The Alberta Soccer Association and the club have made plans for an August 7 press conference at Commonwealth Stadium where the new FC Edmonton women’s program will be unveiled.

During yesterday’s FC Edmonton men’s training sessions, staff members of the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars were in attendance. And members of the FC Edmonton staff were recently in Portland to attend a Thorns home game.

The team has not announced where a new women’s team or program would play. There are no other W-League cities close to Edmonton, now that the Whitecaps made the decision to withdraw from the semi-pro women’s league. Look for the new women’s program to be linked to Canada’s Excel program to encourage young women’s talent, and mirror what the club is doing on the male side, with a developmental program and an academy.

Edmonton will host the Canadian women’s team on Oct. 30, when it faces South Korea. The city will host more Women’s World Cup matches than any other Canadian centre. And, Canada will open the Women’s World Cup in 2015 at Commonwealth Stadium.

The creation of a women’s program would be a major legacy that would stem from the U-20 and senior Women’s World Cups coming to the city in 2014.

FCE is currently lobbying the city for a new soccer stadium. The city has taken a wait-and-see approach, saying it wants to measure the support for NASL soccer over the course of a season and see if it’s appropriate to invest in a new facility. Mayor Stephen Mandel is stepping down and a successor will be elected in October. But, a women’s program would be another dimension to a stadium bid — especially with the need for women’s training facilities for the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Another thing this launch does is defeat the naysayers who believe that owner Tom Fath must have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to the club’s future, based on attendance numbers in a Clarke Stadium environment that was only expanded earlier this year, and still has a capacity of a little less than 3,000. The indications are that there is continuing investment to grow the club and the program, even if the NASL side is not spending as it did in previous seasons.

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