Saskatoon Valkyries linebacker Emmarae Dale of the Western Canadian Women’s Soccer League (WWCFL) is set to represent her country after making the women’s national soccer team.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling,” she said. “My goal for the past four years of football has been to make Team Canada.”
She was one of 43 players named to the list who will compete in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship in Vantaa, Finland. The tournament runs from July 27 to August 8 and features the best women’s soccer teams in the world.
She is joined by another Valkyries player, Ashley Viklund, who will be competing in her second world championship.
“Playing for Team Canada and having your country’s name on my chest is absolutely one of the most exciting experiences of my life.”
The tournament was scheduled for 2021 but was postponed due to the pandemic.
“I’m looking forward to competing at a high level and seeing what the world has to offer in terms of women’s football,” Dale said.
Canada’s roster features 12 Valkyries players, which is the most of any team. WWCFL’s Regina Riot signed seven more players to the team.
“It shows how good our football program is here in Saskatchewan,” she said. “We all have some sort of prairie strength.”
Valkyries player Lauren Ferguson made the team as an offensive lineman and tight end. She first performed in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
“All the opportunities as a player and a coach here are day and night,” she said.
The team will meet in July to train together in Finland ahead of the tournament. The team is still waiting to see who their first opponent will be. Viklund says the United States are strong favorites to win the event, but she’s looking forward to the opportunity to face them. In her basement, where she trains, she has a silver medal from the team’s loss to the United States. in 2017 to remind him to “take the extra step, wanting that gold.”
“This time we really hope to make it a game and be ahead of that leaderboard,” she said.
Beyond the pursuit of a gold medal, Vikund and his fellow Valkeries know they represent so much more.
“I think there is a real opportunity for growth with women in football as it is a traditionally male sport,” she said.
“Going out there showing it’s not just the guys you know, play fast and hit hard – we’re doing the exact same thing,” Ferguson said.