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Labbe to play for Calgary Foothills this Saturday

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Stephanie Labbe will take a major step Saturday in her quest to claim a spot with Calgary Foothills.

The Canadian national women’s team goalie is looking to play football with the men of Foothills; she’s currently on trial with the PDL side. Foothills technical director Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said that the plan is for Labbe to start Saturday in an exhibition match against Lethbridge. Then, Labbe heads off to join the Canadian national side, while Calgary Foothills goes on a preseason tour to the United Kingdom. Then, when the team returns, Wheeldon said he expects Labbe to get into a couple of more games.

“She’s been absolutely first class,” Wheeldon said of Labbe. He said his team has accepted her as a very good goalkeeper looking for a position on the team, and there hasn’t been a lot of made of the gender difference.

“Of she is good enough, if she can be better than the other players, then she’ll be able to make the club,” said Wheeldon.

But, the team has former Whitecap Marco Carducci, who spent last season with Rio Grande Valley of the USL, already signed as a keeper.

Labbe is not new to USL. She played in the old W-League as a member of the Edmonton Aviators, the franchise that lasted just one season.

Wheeldon said a PDL team is allowed to have eight overage players on its roster. So, if Labbe makes the team, age won’t be an issue — just as it wasn’t for Canadian national-team veteran and former FC Edmonton captain Nik Ledgerwood, who signed for the team earlier this season.

Foothills will be moving south to the town of Okotoks, a short jaunt down the highway from Calgary (and, for people living in the southern part of Calgary, sometimes a lot easier to get to than heading to the north side of the city). Wheeldon said the USL requires teams to have a minimum of 1,000 seats for a home stadium at the PDL level. The team was paying fines for not having the needed capacity at the Calgary Soccer Centre. And, the team wasn’t the primary tenant at previous home fields in Calgary, meaning they didn’t always get prime selection of game times, or were subject to stadium renovations. In a lot of ways, it was similar to what FC Edmonton faced at Clarke Field in Edmonton, where the city-run facility was rented out by various groups and the Eddies didn’t always have a spot at the front of the line.

 

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