April Syme leads out Woodbridge Strikers' Women's Premier Division team and is a key member of the Women's Football Subcommitee
The League1 Ontario Women’s Football Subcommittee has been finalized with five leading figures in women’s soccer in Ontario joining together to move the game forward.
The subcommittee includes Joey Lombardi, April Syme, Farkhunda Muhtaj, Dave Kelly, and Olivia Smith; to be led by the new L1O Director of Women’s Football – a role currently undergoing a hiring process - who will become the group's Chairperson. Current Chairperson Chelsea Spencer will become Vice Chair once the new director has been appointed.
The group will provide strategic initiatives, support, and recommendations regarding all matters relating to the L1O women’s divisions, optimizing the progress and development of players, coaches, administrators, and clubs, and aligning strategy with League1 Canada, provincial team programming, and the national team pathway.
Spencer said: “The whole point of the subcommittee is to grow the women's game from all facets.
“I'm really looking forward to having this group come together because there's so much talent in one area and so many areas that we can grow. It's very rare that you have this many phenomenal people, topped with their experience, altogether in one space.
“We had quite a few applicants; when I was reading through everyone's resumés, there was no way I could say no to that amount of people in our community. So, we now have a focus group for those who aren't part of the committee.
“Anything the subcommittee comes up with in the sense of ideas or initiatives will be passed to the focus group for their thoughts and perspectives before presenting to the board.”
Chelsea Spencer with 2022 Women's Premier Division Coach of the Year and fellow subcommittee member Joey Lombardi
Please see below information about the selected members of the subcommittee, with commentary from Spencer regarding what each person can bring to the table and support the growth of the game.
- Head coach at NDC Ontario
- 2022 L1O Women’s Premier Division Coach of the Year and title winner
- Worked a variety of roles with Canadian national team squads from age group to senior level
“Joey has quite a history with soccer in Ontario and Canada. He will bring perspective from a high-level soccer brain, which is very important because we want the League1 women’s programme to be that elite space for players. He will help us understand what will be needed to get to that level and continue to grow.”
- Current L1O player for Woodbridge Strikers
- Made her debut with Woodbridge Strikers in 2016 and won the Women’s Premier Division title in 2021
- Development & Competitive Program Manager at Burlington Soccer Club
“April and I used to play semi-professional football together and I’ve watched her grow over the years, seeing her impact on the field at L1O level and also in the community. With her reputation and the type of person she is, she's providing that veteran player perspective and will be a great advocate for our older players.”
- Two stints at Vaughan Azzurri and one with Durham United in L1O
- Former captain of the Afghanistan national team
- Humanitarian activist who has visited European clubs such as FC Barcelona and SL Benfica
“She is a very talented player but it’s also about representation, and she brings that to this group, a perspective that can sometimes get overlooked and I don't want it to. I want her to share her experiences as an activist for refugees and women in her culture, the experiences she's gone through, and be a voice for that racialized community so we can adjust, support, and move this growing part of Canadian soccer forwards.”
Dave Kelly on Simcoe County Rovers coaching duties
- Current women’s head coach at Simcoe County Rovers
- Former national-level Coach Developer for Canada Soccer
- Previously coached at North Toronto Nitros, Toronto FC youth development, and teams in the United Kingdom
“Dave has a great reputation in soccer and I'm excited to get to know him and learn from him. The experience he has with the professional system and the seasoned leagues in the UK will lend very nicely to the group because he will bring a different perspective and give us tips around that.”
- Women’s Premier Division Young Player of the Year, Forward of the Year, and Golden Boot winner in 2023
- Has two appearances for Canadian national team and just 18 years old
- Rose through the development ranks at North Toronto Nitros
“She's on board because of her accolades and being a high-level youth player. That's a perspective that the group needs because she will ignite the plus-30s, give us energy and a fresh perspective that the youth bring. The women's program is growing and in order for that to continue, we need youth players playing; she will help ensure we are supporting our younger players in the best way possible.”
Olivia Smith training with CANW20