June 22, 2024
  • June 22, 2024
Northern Super League Inaugural Teams

Everything We Know About All Six NSL Launch Teams

By on May 30, 2024 0 5294 Views

The Northern Super League has introduced itself with six teams from coast-to-coast, shedding its temporary Project 8 branding for the teal and purple shine of the fabled Northern Lights.

With this firm identity came the unveiling of the league’s fifth and sixth launch teams, which got us thinking: what all do we know about each of the six clubs stepping up to bring professional woen’s soccer to Canada?

Let’s take a look and find out:

Northern Super League Calgary Wild FC

Calgary: Calgary Wild FC

Built on the strong foundation of the Calgary Foothills Soccer Club, Calgary’s NSL team became the first to launch its full branding just two days after the league itself.

Prior to launch the club teased red and purple branding in videos that have included owls and the moon, and that played directly into its identity at the Calgary Wild FC, featuring an owl-centric logo that proves to be a real hoot.

The team was quick to secure a club-specific sponsor in Alberta’s own Cenovus Energy. It’ll also be interesting to see what happens to the Foothill’s UWS team, which currently fills the gap between collegiate football and professional play, along with the League1 Alberta side the Foothills fields, too.

Where Will They Play?

The Calgary Wild will play out of McMahon Stadium, sharing its home pitch with the Stampeders. That’s quite a sizable venue which can sustain crowds of up to 35,400, though the team had initially looked at a smaller, more intimate setting like what we’d seen with Cavalry FC’s ATCO Field – something which seemed off when NSL co-founder Diana Matheson said Halifax would be only team with a grass pitch, inadvertently ruling out the CPL venue ahead of today’s announcement.

“Similar to what they’ve done, we’re looking – ideally – at 6,000 to 8,000-seat stadiums. Keep it small, keep it community-based, and football specific,” Deanna Zumwalt had said prior. She’s expected to be the face of YYC WFC moving forward, and helped usher the team from its Foothills foundations to the present.

Who Is The Ownership Group?

While we know the Calgary Foothills are the foundation of the Northern Super League team, who has invested and stepped in beyond that since December 2022 isn’t exactly clear. The aforementioned Deanna Zumwalt is the face of the project: the chair of Calgary’s NSL venture and a former board member of Alberta Soccer, she’s helped the Foothills build this team since day one while also working as the CEO of global investment management company Coril.

We believe that Lara Murphy, who co-owns Ryan Murphy Construction, is involved with the project, while Foothills Vice President Danny Hay – who has been with that organization since 2005 – will play a big role as well.

We imagine the rest of the faces behind the project will step into the light with Calgary’s Northern Super League team unveiling later today. Stay tuned!

Northern Super League Halifax Tides

Halifax: Halifax Tides FC

Fans had an early look at potential branding with a teal and pruple colour scheme following the announcement of the temporary-titled Atlantic Women’s FC, and on June 13 the full club branding emerged: known as the Halifax Tides, the team will adorn the nautical colours of Ocean Cyan, Granite Purple, and Ship Grey.

The club was the fourth Northern Super League team announced and the first to call the east coast home.

Thus far, Dr. Courtney Sherlock has been the big face behind the venture. A veterinarian and successful entrepreneur who has ownership in no less than six hospitals, she expects the team will put high value on nurturing local talent. The NSL side will look to establish an academy program in tandem with its professional roster, though plenty of details are still to come.

“We can’t imagine having a national Canadian league and not having Halifax represented,” said Sherlock, who views the opportunity to help the team launch as a great opportunity to make a meaningful mark on the world. She’s working hard to recruit a team with more football knowledge: while the mother of three has two daughters who play the sport, she herself is diving into a fairly new world for herself.

Where Will They Play?

The club hasn’t left any hints on where the East Coast’s only professional women’s soccer team will play, though we can take a fairly education guess based on Diana Matheson stating that Halifax will likely be the only team playing on grass. Wanderers Grounds fits the bill, though the permanent stadium solution pitched by the city’s CPL team would see that field converted to turf if all goes to plan.

The Halifax Wanderers are not associated with the NSL’s venture out east, with Sherlock describing Wanderers Grounds as simply being ‘one option’ for AWFC’s home, though she certainly seems to like it.

“Small stadium, nice and intimate, and it’s right downtown,” she told Neil Davidson last month. “The players love playing there and I think it will be an attractive market to bring some Canadian players back to Canada,”

Who Is The Ownership Group?

When we first reported on the club prior to its official announcement, a provincial company listing featured a predominantly female cast of east coast influence with the aforementioned Courtney Sherlock as CEO, along with a substantial list of directors like Marie Bowie, Amanda Sparkes, Tara Larsen, Miriam Zitner, and Andrea Thompson.

Bowie is a former national team player born and raised in Halifax, while Sparkes and Zitner both work in the business acceleration space. Larsen brings a financial background as the CFO of CBCL Limited, Dr. Courtney Sherlock was named as one of Atlantic Canada’s top fifty CEOs back in 2022, and Andrea Thompson had once been the President of the Halifax County United Soccer Club. Maplewave CEO Adam Baggs is also revealed to have come onboard as an investor.

Northern Super League Montreal

Montreal: Team Name TBD

Just hours before the Northern Super League unveiled its own branding, the league unveiled Montreal as the fifth and penultimate launch team. The team has teased some red branding online, but as an entity publicly known for less than week, the bulk of the details are still to come.

Where Will They Play?

Montreal’s stadium solution is perhaps one of the most interesting ones to be seen in global sport: unable to lock in a permanent venue for kickoff in 2025, the team will play across a variety of fields in year one. Canada’s professional men’s league has faced a similar roadblock to expansion in La Belle province, though the Northern Super League hasn’t let that slow them down.

Who Is The Ownership Group?

The team is backed by Isabele Chevalier and Jean-Francois Crevier. Chevalier is a veteran entrepreneur-investor – fans may have seen her on French edition of Dragons Den – while Crevier owns a an automotive and commercial lubricant manufacture and distributor of significant stature, adding big capital to the table.

The duo’s buy-in date of July 2023 means that they put money where their mouths were before the success of the PWHL, though that’s evidently something they’ll have enjoyed seeing unfold this year.

Northern Super League Ottawa

Ottawa: A Total Mystery

There’s no doubt about it: the sixth and final Northern Super League launch team – a number they had to hit for sanctioning by Canada Soccer – has come in with no supplementary details.

All we know is that professional women’s soccer is slated to come to the nation’s capital in April 2025, so there are big question marks surrounding who is ushering the NLS into the nation’s capital.

Matheson seemed to imply Ottawa is much further behind the other teams when it comes to assembling those details, noting that Ottawa will likely be the last club to reveal more about its branding. For now, they’re the only NSL team still without a social media presence, even under a temporary team name.

Who Is The Ownership Group?

The league didn’t say who is behind the NSL in Ottawa, nor has anyone stepped up to claim credit – though we do believe Ottawa-based market strategist Isabelle Perrault is involved.

We also reached out to CPL side Atletico Ottawa to see if it was involved in the NSL team, but did not receive an answer at the time of publication.

Where Will They Play?

That’s another unknown. TD Place feels like an ideal location, though it could come with a scheduling fiasco given that the RedBlacks, Gee-Gees, and Atletico Ottawa all call the stadium home with plenty of events running in the venue, too. Like all other details of the club, this is an unknown for now.

Northern Super League AFC Toronto Club Logo

Toronto: AFC Toronto

Ontario’s capital city represents one of the biggest markets in the nation, and Diana Matheson told us right from the start that it was a must-have for launch – and being from Oakville herself, it was a little extra special to check the box on AFC Toronto.

See Also: A Deep Dive Into AFC Toronto

One week following the publication of this post, the group released its formal colours as Mighty Maroon and Victory Vermillion, meaning both AFC Toronto and Toronto FC will represent the city in red. It also showcased its two-tone crest for the first time, too.

While it’s clear that Toronto is a complicated and competitive place to be – just as York United – the city is one element Diana Matheson says the NSL absolutely has to get right.

The club is hosting a Meet-And-Greet hosted by The Voyageurs at the Craft Brasserie and Grille on Monday, June 3 at 7:30PM, so further information is likely to come soon.

Where Will They Play?

While nothing is set in stone, the concrete of Lamport Stadium is a frontrunner that comes with a few caveats. AFC Toronto City CEO Helena Ruken told us as much last year, with a recent City of Toronto city hall meeting note showing that the Northern Super League team is hoping the city can make some much-needed renovations.

“We have several irons in the fire and we will work to get the best possible venue,” Ruken told us last year. “We do need a really good facility to to do that. Lamport would need a lot of renovation. It’s also very heavily used by the community, but if the city offers us that, absolutely. There are lots of other really good options that we that we are considering.”

One of these alternatives is York Lions Stadium, with a trusted source close to the NSL team informing us that AFC Toronto City is looking at playing out of the 4,000-capacity stadium for its inaugural season while its more permanent stadium venture takes shape. That would mean that they’d share the facility with York University, York United, and Toronto FC II for at least 2025, though their final stadium plans for kickoff are still being ironed out.

Who Is The Ownership Group?

If you’re looking for community roots, the six original founders of AFC Toronto City have it in spades, particularly with the North Toronto Soccer Club.

Helena Ruken dons the role of CEO having held longstanding senior roles with the North Toronto Soccer Club, with she herself stepping in as Club President in 2020 and beginning her three-year term on the NTSC board a year later.

See Also: Northern Tribune Sits Down To Chat With Helena Ruken

Joining Ruken is AFC Toronto City COO Brenda Ha, who has held senior roles at BMO Financial Group and CIBC, having also founded a concierge service called Check Box Services. Jill Burgin dons the CMO role, bringing with her an MBA from the Rotman School of Management and three years of experience with Diageo Global, a multinational alcoholic beverage company.

Joining the women are Mike Ruthard as CFO, Billy Wilson as technical advisor, who will build out the club’s technical operations and holds an A level Coaching License, Shamez Mangalji as the director of sales and fundraising, and Kamal Sandhu, who brings 23 year of consulting and business operations experience.

More recently, Canadian Olympian Andre De Grasse invested in the club, purchasing an ownership stake back in January.

Northern Super League Vancouver

Vancouver: Team Name TBD

The Northern Super League’s Vancouver entrant will be part of the Whitecaps organization, but it’ll have its own branding, name, and colour scheme that will be unique to the NSL club. Having an ownership group who already operate a Major League Soccer team and a consistently high-calibre women’s academy is expected to be a big boost.

That means that the ‘Caps are the only Major League Soccer-related owners in the NSL, giving this team quite a strong supportive foundation to build from right from the get-go. That kind of infrastructure can prove to be a huge difference-maker for establishing dynasties, with the city of Vancouver already being a draw for players in itself.

In mid-June, Canadian Soccer Daily‘s Ben Steiner reported that three names were in consideration: Vancouver Summit, Vancouver Rise, or the Vancouver Queens.

Where Will They Play?

While some might look at the ‘Caps involvement and assume BC Place is locked in, the team hasn’t actually confirmed that the 54,500-seat crown-owned venue will be home for its Northern Super League team. There are other options like the historic Swanguard Stadium, where the Whitecaps FC 2 play. While both venues aren’t owned by the ‘Caps themselves, at the end of the day Vancouver’s NSL team is probably the least-worried of all six launch teams when it comes to finding a place to call home.

Who Is The Ownership Group?

The Vancouver Whitecaps didn’t hesitate to sign on for a professional women’s soccer league in Canada, which is an idea they’ve been striving towards for many years now. Leading the charge for the organization is Whitecaps FC General Manager of Women’s Soccer Stephanie Labbe, who represented the Canadian national women’s team no less than 86 times and won Olympic Gold with Les Rouges in Tokyo.

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While the Northern Super League has nearly a year’s worth of runway before it kicks off in April 2025, key details are expected to come much sooner: league co-founder Diana Matheson expects broadcast details to come in the near future, while club branding will be independently rolled out in the next hours, days, and months, depending on when clubs are ready.

We’ve also detailed what we know about the roster sizes, salary cap, and anything we could find about what will be Canada’s only professional women’s league here. There’s a lot of information still to come, some of which is simply nice to know, and some of which is truly needed.

Fans can stay in touch with Northern Super League news by bookmarking our category for it here or following Northern Tribune on Twitter.

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