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Tecumseh squad in a huddle

A Bluffer’s Guide to Tecumseh

By Matt Bates, 06/09/22, 11:15AM EDT


The Women’s Premier Division club are back for their second season in Canada’s leading women’s league, continuing their exciting rise from being founded over 20 years ago.

Tecumseh team photo

It was announced in February last year that Tecumseh would join League1 Ontario’s Women’s Premier Division for the 2021 season, alongside Guelph Union and BVB IA Waterloo (then Waterloo United).

Tecumseh were founded in 1999 as a not-for-profit organization that helped to align the region’s already established recreational programs with a competitive one. The southern Ontario club joined the Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) in 2017 and regularly competed at the top end of the division.

They were later one of the first 39 teams – including several members of L1O – to be awarded with a Canada Soccer National Youth Club License in 2019 for their efforts in improving the level of youth soccer in the country.

Before embarking on their first season, Tecumseh’s sporting director Ryan Mendonca said that the club would be developed in a way that takes inspiration from the Icelandic men’s national team.

Iceland were somewhat surprise qualifiers in the 2016 UEFA European Championship and 2018 FIFA World Cup, and Tecumseh want to similarly thrive on the competitive stage using local players from a small catchment area.

Mendonca's brother Daniel also plays a big part at Tecumseh as program director, with the duo helping to provide a family feel at the club from the top down.

The club also sees it important to provide higher-level playing opportunities on the doorstep of local players. Recently they struck an affiliation with another southern Ontario team, Whitecaps London, to ensure that Whitecaps’ women’s players can progress to L1O level.

Did you know? Tecumseh is the name of a highly celebrated Native American chief and is depicted on the soccer club’s logo.

Tecumseh were set to include a U21 team into the Women’s Reserve Division in 2020 only for the COVID-19 pandemic to force it off the calendar, so they waited until the Premier Division began in 2021 to get their first taste of life in L1O.

But their inaugural campaign wasn’t quite the marker that they wanted to make, finishing bottom of the league with two wins and just eight goals from 12 games.

This season however they are currently sitting in an improved 13th position out of 20 teams. After losing on the opening day, Tecumseh defeated ProStars and went on a three-game run of 1-1 ties against Pickering, Alliance United, and North Toronto Nitros.

They also posted a victory and a clean sheet against Darby last time out, and travel to Electric City in their next game this weekend.

One of the key personnel behind this season's success is James Lambourne - the current head coach of the Women's Premier Division team.

It took them close to half as many games to match last season’s goalscoring record. Teagan Handley, Kailyn Robertson, and Mia Leonetti have all found the net twice this season in addition to goals from Brooke MacLeod, Ava Mills, and Aaliyah Faddoul.

Handley has been a pivotal figure in this season’s success with more minutes on the field than any other player on the roster. She and fellow midfielder Mills have both featured in a Team of the Week already this year.

Tecumseh also have an impressive youth setup with around 200 players progressing through their pathway, and field teams in the L1O Women’s Reserve Division.

It’s not just the women’s game that they are growing either. Tecumseh are featuring in the Men’s Reserve Division this year – their U21 side is top of the West Conference with a 100 per cent record from five games and their U19 team has one win from two.

Part of their player development process is introducing them to futsal, a step which is inspired by some the best soccer professionals in the men’s game having had a background in this version of the sport.

The Tecumseh model continues to provide soccer opportunities from U12s through to adults, and their established development ladder can only mean positive things for their future on then field in L1O.

Tecumseh team lined up