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New Guelph Union to provide top-flight women's soccer

Club will compete in the League1 Ontario, the highest level of women's soccer in the province
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Guelph Union is to join the League1 Ontario soccer league's women's division for the 2021 season.

The Royal City is to be represented in the next League1 Ontario women’s division soccer league season when it starts.

The semi-professional women’s league announced three expansion squads Wednesday including Guelph Union, a Guelph Soccer team.

“It's the highest level of soccer that women can play in our province,” Shayne Campbell said. He’s Union’s Football Director, Guelph Soccer’s program advisor and the head coach of the University of Guelph’s varsity women’s team.

“Immediately, it's a high-performance environment. We've had a strong presence for years of women's soccer here in the club, but this will provide a next-level opportunity. It's going to provide opportunities for women to play at the highest level.”

In 2019, Guelph Soccer had four teams in the Ontario Women’s Soccer League – one in the Provincial Elite division coached by Campbell, two in Provincial South and one in Provincial Elite U21. The 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

“The club is still going to have OWSL representation,” Campbell said.

Sara Orrell, GM of Guelph Soccer, said: “Establishing a League 1 women’s program is an exciting next step for our organization and our community. This program aligns with our efforts to get more women and girls playing and remaining in the game. Our vision as an organization is to keep high-level female athletes visible in our community and inspire our players to dream big.”

Also joining Union as expansion squads in the league are Tecumseh SC of Windsor and Waterloo United. Their addition brings the league’s membership to 15 teams in southern Ontario from FC Oshawa in the east to Tecumseh SC in the west. 

“We've always had a desire to get there and we've been building, but decided to take the step this year toward it,” Campbell said. “The Guelph club has had lots of women playing for a number of years now, not just the team I coached. It just seemed like the next logical step so we decided to take that step this year and we were successful.”

Union will be joining a highly competitive league whose players are mainly current members of OUA, USport and NCAA teams or alumnus of those programs.

“Some of the senior players in the league have had storied careers in those divisions and those conferences,” Campbell said. “Every team has real good quality in every position. No team has really deficits, there's strong representation across all the squads of those kinds of players. There's a consistency in the level, for sure.”

Union is to use the University of Guelph as their home base for both games and practices.

L1O’s women’s regular season in 2020 was to run from April 25 to July 12, but was cancelled due to COVID-19. The pandemic is also expected to delay the start of this year’s season.

“It's really important to the club,” Campbell said of having a team in the league. “We see it as a real helpful way for us to inspire our local players in the club to be able to look ahead and be inspired.”

Among some of the key announcements the team is expecting to announce in the next couple of months is a coaching staff and the team’s schedule.

“It's really exciting,” Campbell said. “It's exciting and a privilege to be a part of the work that everyone's going to do – players and staff and our community. I'm really excited and I think this is something that our community will be really excited about as well.”