Irene Halis (right) with Peel Police colleagues
Irene Halis joined the League1 Ontario team in 2017, working behind-the-scenes to help support the competition’s growth and develop the Canadian soccer landscape.
As a competitive player herself, she was well versed in the game and found herself immersed very quickly in the world of soccer both on and off the field.
Within her first two years in the L1O offices, she worked with Cameel Chambers who is a Recruiting Outreach Officer at Peel Regional Police and aims to highlight the opportunities and pathways that come with a career in the force.
“I was helping with marketing,” said Halis. “I got to know them pretty well, and they always invited me to policing events and said it was something I should possibly think about as a career move.
“At that time I still wanted to give soccer a shot. This is where my passion is because I grew up playing my whole life, so that’s what I wanted to be involved with.
“I remember attending a policing event in the fall of 2018 and it opened my eyes to the different areas of the career. I had previously thought it was just front line, pulling over cars, and giving tickets.”
The world changed drastically in March 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, and Halis then made the decision to switch careers from soccer to the police.
“Soccer completely shut down and I was home for a couple of months, not really knowing when soccer was going to be back. That’s when I rang Cameel and said I’m ready to make the switch to policing now.
“From working and being active, to suddenly being told to sit at home took a huge toll, so I started with the police in August 2020 and have since been three years in the job.”
Despite having no policing background, Halis took on the challenge and said her sporting experiences and education helped her adapt to her new career.
“There are so many qualities that tie soccer and policing together, like teamwork.
“In soccer, you must work in a team on the field and your goal is to win that game and keep the ball out the back of the net. On the road while policing, it’s the same idea, but can be life or death at times.
“You need to know your team has your back – just like on the field, I know if I get beat someone will have my back and prevent the goal.”
Halis started as a recruit, training for the first six months before an additional three months on the road with a coach. She was then deemed ready to go on her own and has been on the front line for the past two years, while still doing lots of learning and training.
“I would definitely recommend it to someone else because there’s only so long your body will hold out playing soccer, but now I see myself as a full-time athlete because I have to stay physically fit.
“It’s also mandatory to keep those connections within the community, which is similar to soccer and being a part of local culture.
“I’ve still maintained ties with League1 Ontario. I try to get to a game whenever I can, and it reminds me of the little things that I contributed to the league to make it what it is and to give these players a professional pathway.”
As well as continuing to champion L1O, she has a new message for people who are thinking about a career in policing.
“Jump in with two feet, and don’t be afraid to take the chance – that goes with anything.
“This career move changed my life and I’m sure it has with many other people as well.”
Irene Halis (right) with NDC Ontario team in 2022