Nurse, LeBlanc among group to study, advise on women’s professional sport in Canada


Kia Nurse and Karina LeBlanc are among a group of Canadian stars tasked with helping to determine the course of professional women’s sport in Canada.

Kia Nurse and Karina LeBlanc are among a group of Canadian stars tasked with helping to determine the course of professional women’s sport in Canada.

Women and Sport in Canada announced some new initiatives on Tuesday, including the appointment of the Commercial Women’s Sport Advisory Group and a study on the potential and direction of professional women’s sport.

Nurse and LeBlanc are two-time Olympians. Nurse now plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, while LeBlanc is head of women’s football for CONCACAF and general manager of Portland Thorns FC.

They are joined by Stacey Allaster, US Open Tournament Director and former CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association; Toronto Raptors vice president of basketball operations Teresa Resch among others in the group that also includes women in media and corporate brands.

Cheri Bradish, director of the Future of Sport Lab at Metropolitan University of Toronto, will be lead author on a report to be released in the fall.

“This is an exciting time for women’s sport in Canada,” said Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, CEO of Women in Sport in Canada. “There is a desire to have the growth of professional women’s sport in this country. There has been the CWHL (Canadian Women’s Hockey League) and other efforts have been made, but we really think there is a tremendous opportunity now given the number of leagues and groups, as well as the athletes who speak so highly of it, who are looking to establish professional support leagues in Canada in the months or years to come.”

The advisory group will guide a national landscape report that will gather data both from a questionnaire, as well as secondary data from case studies and work with national sports organisations.

“We’re interested in looking at this broadly, but it’s absolutely about doing primary research to find out what Canadians think,” Sanmeyer-Graves said. “What are their habits? What are their behaviors vis-à-vis women’s sport, and what could they be vis-à-vis women’s professional sport?

“And looking at it from the perspective of the media, the brands – merchandise and things like that – as well as the teams and the leagues themselves. Because it’s the people who are really going to make the difference in terms of bring these opportunities to Canada, and we want to support them with valuable information and data to help them make decisions that will allow women to succeed.”

Sandmeyer-Graves said it was crucial for the advisory group to provide Canada-specific information, rather than relying on information from professional leagues in the United States.

“The United States is a very different market,” she said. “We want Canada-specific information and we believe this panel and this report represent the best place to start.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 9, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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