July 3, 2020

22° C, Overcast

Full Forecast


Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?


Advertise With Us

Giving the boot to middle age

Soccer clinic for women over 40 raises funds for Wesmen women's team

photos by MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Wesmen women’s soccer team coach Amy Anderson (centre) talks strategy during a soccer clinic.</p>


Wesmen women’s soccer team coach Amy Anderson (centre) talks strategy during a soccer clinic.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/4/2017 (1187 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For six Sunday mornings this spring, women over 40 years of age have been going downtown and paying $15 to learn from younger women how to get their kicks. It’s nothing shady or illicit. In fact, it’s a totally virtuous exhibit of women at different stages of life sharing their skills, experience and support.

It’s the University of Winnipeg Wesmen women’s Sunday morning soccer camp. The program brings together players from the fledgling team — who have loads of skill but little money — with women in their 40s who are more than happy to donate $15 a session toward the team’s scholarship fund, for tips on how to improve their game.

"Young women student athletes help women who are older to learn the game, encourage and support one another — and in turn, we can develop a big sister-alumni type support group for the players," said Wesmen head coach Amy Anderson.

Her players get out of bed Sunday mornings and volunteer at the camp, helping women their mothers’ age improve their soccer skills.

"Our team hasn’t been in existence very long," midfielder Rachel Antonia Dunsmore, 23, said. It doesn’t have an alumni group to help raise funds.

University women’s sports teams aren’t guaranteed. Last week, the University of North Dakota cut its women’s hockey team in response to budget cuts, leaving four of its players who are from Manitoba in the lurch.

U of W soccer coach Anderson came up with the idea for an over-40 fundraising camp three years ago.

"I was trying to encourage a friend who was in her early 50s to play soccer. This idea of creating a safe, encouraging and fun place for women to play soccer appealed to me," said Anderson, who grew up in Winnipeg, has an extensive coaching history and has played in Britain.

"Lots of soccer programs are targeted towards youth, and one of the great things about the facility at U of W is that we want it accessible to all. We needed to fundraise money for the program, which can be tricky (to achieve) in times where there is so much need for other programs. I think the public has an impression that university soccer players are on full scholarships, but this is not the case."

The Sunday morning soccer camp has grown since it started three years ago at the Axworthy Health and RecPlex, said Wesmen forward Jamila Calvez, 20. Her mom and aunt are both participating.

"There’s been a huge turnout this year," Calvez said. Volunteers Crystal Simmons and Cherianne McClure, who belong to teams in the masters division for women 35 and up, went to games around the city inviting women 40 and over to take part.

The effort paid off — more than 50 women show up Sundays now.

"It’s super important, financially, for us players," Calvez said. "That’s where our money is coming from. It’s pretty much one of our key things we’ve got going." Calvez is in her third year of environment science. She wants to be a conservation officer and to keep playing soccer well into middle age.

From left: Cherianne McClure, Jamila Calvez, Crystal Simmons, Heather Shayna, head coach Amy Anderson and Rachel Antonia Dunsmore take part in a soccer clinic for women over 40 to raise money for the Wesmen women’s soccer team scholarship fund.</p>

From left: Cherianne McClure, Jamila Calvez, Crystal Simmons, Heather Shayna, head coach Amy Anderson and Rachel Antonia Dunsmore take part in a soccer clinic for women over 40 to raise money for the Wesmen women’s soccer team scholarship fund.

Dunsmore, a sociology major, said Sunday mornings have been an eye-opener.

"The problem today is a lot of social spaces are really age-segregated. I think it’s powerful to have different ages and different generations together — especially for women," she said.

Older women who compete against one another on different masters and co-ed teams come together Sunday mornings from all over the city, from all walks of life, and with different soccer skills, "from people who’ve never played before to people who have some basic skills to the more advanced," she added.

"It’s easy to judge ourselves and each other and to feel small," Dunsmore said, but that’s not what she is seeing. "The women are really positive and supportive, and that’s a great example and a role model for us younger women on the team. It’s great that our coach has set up this thing."

Heather Shayna, 50, agrees.

"It’s a great little soccer program for women over 40 who never played soccer growing up." The former soccer mom decided at 40 that she wanted to play, too. Now she plays with the Pink Ladies in the Winnipeg Women’s Soccer League masters division.

"It was more of a camaraderie thing with friends. A bunch of girls who hadn’t played soccer decided to give it a shot.

"A lot of us enjoy the game but don’t know how to play. We’re not very good at technique. I still toe-punt the ball. But you see the young girls kick and position their bodies and how to play the sport and learn the skills and how to do it better."

The young Wesmen women may learn a thing or two from their older students.

"It’s going to be a good lesson for them — to come out of their shells a bit," Shayna said. "Right now, they’re quiet. At 18, 19, 20, that’s a quieter time — you’re learning your way in the world and not very confident in who we are and what we’re about."

It’s important to support women’s teams such as the Wesmen, said Shayna, who was a national badminton player in her student days in Winnipeg and is now is in the insurance business.

"Keeping women’s sport alive at the university level is super important. Winnipeg has a really great soccer route for young kids starting at three and four. Our kids can play local soccer and they don’t have to go away to a university in the U.S."

Wesmen head coach Anderson deserves a lot of credit for reaching out to the community to help U of W women’s soccer thrive, Shayna said.

"She has a deep passion for her sport and cares about the girls who play on her team."


Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

Read full biography


Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.


Advertise With Us