Canadian National Soccer Teams


Soccer, or association football as it is known internationally, is an immensely popular sport in Canada among both men and women. It’s the number one participation sport in the country for children and young people. As of 2014, Canada reported 824,181 registered soccer players at all levels, out of which about 40 percent were female. The Big Count conducted by FIFA in 2006, which indicates soccer statistics by country, indicated well over 2.5 million total soccer players in Canada. Canada currently has two national soccer teams separated by gender to compete in international tournaments. Throughout history, the Canadian national soccer teams have won international tournaments and Olympic medals, among many other accomplishments.


Soccer has roots in Canada going back to the 19th century. Historians have not determined exactly when or how association football began in Canada. However, the first modern soccer game in Canada is believed to have occurred in 1876 in Toronto between two local teams following rules set by the Football Association of England. From then on, the sport has seemingly gained traction across the country as a widely played game.

Canada’s first professional soccer team was formed in 1920, the all male National Soccer League, which lasted until 1997. It was in the 1960s that Canadian soccer became truly popular, when teams like the Eastern Canada Professional Soccer League drew in tens of thousands of fans. Around the same time, Canadians became remarkably interested in international soccer as well.

The National Men’s Team

The Canadian national men’s team traces its origins to the Dominion Football Association and the Western Football Association of 1877. The WFA was represented by a local football club at the Olympics of 1904 held at St Louis, Missouri. By 1924, Canada had an all-male national team that toured internationally to play friendly games.

The modern Canadian national men’s team was formed as it is now during the late 1950s, when Canada participated in a World Cup event organized by the North American Football Confederation, a forerunner to CONCACAF. The next two decades saw a series of mishaps for the Canadian team on an international level. However, in 1981, the men’s team performed remarkably well at the CONCACAF championship. Canadian men’s team won its first CONCACAF title in 1985 and gained widespread international recognition.

The National Women’s Team

Traditionally in Canada, soccer was considered a men’s sport. Canadian women first began to participate in team sports such as basketball, ice hockey and softball around 1920. However, soccer was played by few, if any, as contact sports in general were considered inappropriate for women. Also, women’s soccer was openly discouraged by the Dominion Football Association, which had adopted the gender bias of the English Football Association.

Despite gender norms, women seemed to have played soccer in Canada in the early 1900s. A “ladies” soccer match was first reported on 5 August 1918 by a local newspaper. By the mid 1900s, soccer seemed to have gained a considerable popularity among women. In 1950, Canadian high schools and prominent universities like McGill had women’s soccer teams that competed.

As soccer became immensely popular among the general population, it rose in popularity among women as well. By the late 1970s, Canada had several women’s teams that were competing internationally. The Canadian national women’s soccer team was first formed in 1986, and competed first time for the World Cup in 1995. Since then, the Canadian national women’s team has competed in all subsequent World Cup tournaments and several Olympic Games.


The National Women’s Team

The National Men’s Team