Female soccer players, coaches and referees from all over the province are set to converge on Red Deer as the third annual Women in Soccer Conference kicks off at Red Deer College next month.
The conference, which is organized by the Alberta Soccer Association’s Development of Women in Soccer committee, offers women involved in soccer the chance to network, earn certifications as coaches and referees and attend various workshops in a supportive environment.
“The Alberta Soccer Association (ASA) developed a Women in Soccer committee in 2012 and part of that is to promote and support female participants in soccer in Alberta. With that, we have started — this will be our third annual Women in Soccer Conference,” said Tiana Squire, the communications coordinator with the ASA.
The development committee’s mandate is to promote, support and increase the numbers of female participants as players, coaches, referees and in leadership roles in the sport.
According to Squire, women make up less than 30% of coaching course registrants at all levels of coaching in the province and in 2013-14 made up just 27% of registered referees.
To improve these numbers, the committee decided to create the Women in Soccer Conference to provide a single, supportive environment where they can offer certification courses to new coaches and referees and workshops for longtime members.
The first Women in Soccer Conference was held in 2015 in Edmonton while the City was hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“It basically just provides networking opportunities, different certifications for referees and coaches, we’ve got workshops from multiple women from across the country,” said Squire.
“It’s nice for women to create community among themselves in a supportive environment. Our keynote speaker and some of the other women are very successful women throughout Canada, so it’s really cool that they interact with other women that are participating in the conference at the social events. It’s a really neat networking opportunity.”
The event’s keynote speaker is Coaching Association of Canada CEO Lorraine Lafreniere. She will be joined by former Canadian Women’s national team soccer player and Olympic bronze medallist Carmelina Moscato, National EXCEL Director for Canada Soccer Bev Priestman, FIFA Referee Michelle Pye and Dr. Cari Din, an Olympic medallist and leadership expert.
“They’re giving some of the more very casual, sort of panel discussions and then others are full presentations,” said Squire, noting that many of the messages conveyed at the conference relate to soccer, they can be applied to other areas of life as well.
“While the whole conference is directed towards women in soccer, in previous years we have had lots of participants say the presentations that are offered and the workshops that are offered carry over and are very beneficial to their personal lives and their professional lives as well, not just specifically to their roles in the soccer community.”
Many of the leadership sessions offered at the conference come from the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) and include workshops on effective communication, conflict resolution and influencing change.
The conference runs from May 5th-7th at Red Deer College.