Women\'s Soccer Canada

When Canada's national women's soccer team defeated Sweden for Olympic gold last month, more than four million Canadians were glued to the dramatic game. Among them was Marina Peres Labelle, 12, who is part of Pointe-Claire, Que.'s soccer program.

She and some of her teammates would have liked to have been wearing a team jersey in their size to show support — but their hunt proved fruitless.

"We couldn't find any women's jerseys and we were pretty disappointed because they had a bunch of men's jerseys," said Marina. "So we thought that was really unfair."

Fans of — and even players on — Canada's women's soccer team find it frustrating that it's still so hard to buy player jerseys, even after an Olympic gold medal.

Some experts say Canada Soccer should have been better prepared to market its most successful team.

Women's soccer is a big demographic to neglect. Around 85,000 girls are registered to play soccer in Canada right now. The national team are idols to many of those girls and young women, who would have liked to have shown their support during the recent Olympics in Tokyo.

As for the men's team, which did not qualify for the Tokyo Games, the national team jersey for star Alphonso Davies is available from several retailers in red, black and white.

While other countries provide their women's teams with extra jerseys in various sizes for family and friends, in Canada, it's not the same situation. A family would have to custom-order a jersey with their daughter's name on it.

"My family doesn't have a Nike 'Labbé' jersey — and we've been Nike [sponsored] for how long? — and none of my family members have one," said Team Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé. "My parents shouldn't have to go on a website and order my jersey. They gladly would, but they shouldn't have to."

In a statement, Nike Canada spokesperson Angineh Storino said the company is "working to make additional jerseys available so fans can show their support and pride."

a group of football players on a court: Christine Sinclair leads the team onto the pitch at Miyagi Stadium prior to the women's quarter-final match between Canada and Brazil at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. © Getty Images Christine Sinclair leads the team onto the pitch at Miyagi Stadium prior to the women's quarter-final match between Canada and Brazil at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

A missed opportunity

Canada has missed out on many opportunities to better market the national women's team, including having merchandise ready to sell well before the Tokyo Olympics, said Rachel Allison, author of Kicking Center: Gender and the Selling of Women's Professional Soccer and an associate professor of sociology at Mississippi State University.

It wasn't as though gold was unattainable for the team: They won bronze in the two previous Olympics.


Video: Big demand, small supply for Canadian women’s soccer team gear (cbc.ca)

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