Olivia Smith on the ball for North Toronto Nitros last season
There are now less than 10 sleeps to go until the Canada Women’s National Team begin their journey in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, hosted in Australia and New Zealand.
Canada’s group includes Nigeria – the squad’s first game on July 20 – the Republic of Ireland, and Australia, who they play on July 26 and 31 respectively.
Two former League1 Ontario players will be aiming to help take Canada all the way in the tournament. Vanessa Gilles featured for West Ottawa in the second year of Women’s Premier Division play in 2017, and Olivia Smith lit up the league with North Toronto Nitros just last year.
Smith also played a crucial role in securing Women’s U23 World Cup qualification for Canada along with many current and former L1O players – momentum she will be planning to build on with the senior national team.
See below for some more facts and statistics about these players.
Birthplace: Châteauguay, Quebec
Current club: Lyon (on loan from Angel City)
Previous L1O club: West Ottawa
Senior CANWNT apps: 24
Gilles first pursued a future in tennis but switched to soccer in her teenage years, initially as a goalkeeper before becoming a defender. In 2017 she formed part of West Ottawa’s defensive line in League1 Ontario. She made nine appearances and scored two goals, and was also selected in the All-Star third team, before making her CANWNT debut in 2019.
Birthplace: North York, Ontario
Current club: North Toronto Nitros
Previous L1O club: North Toronto Nitros
Senior CANWNT apps: 2
Olivia Smith played for North Toronto Nitros in League1 Ontario in 2022, scoring 18 goals in 11 appearances and eventually being named the Young Player of the Season and Forward of the Year alongside her Golden Boot accolade. In 2019 she became the youngest-ever CANWNT player, and is currently part of the L1O Women’s Football Subcommittee helping to grow the game.
Three players who each played one game in League1 Ontario have also been called up to the World Cup squad. Chelsea’s league and cup winner Kadeisha Buchanan, and club teammate Ashley Lawrence who switched to the English champions from Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month, featured together for Vaughan Azzurri in 2016. Current Reading player Deanne Rose also ran out for DeRo United in 2018.
Congratulations to all those who have been selected for the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Vanessa Gilles training with CANWNT