Women’s soccer is on the minds of many sports fans these days, with the FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place in stadiums coast to coast throughout June and into July.
But soccer is always on the mind of Chilliwack women’s soccer player Anne Russell. She started playing as a young girl in the ’70s in Coquitlam, but was often shuffled to the backyard while her brothers were able to play on teams.
But they couldn’t keep her away from the field, and Russell became one of the “pioneer girls” of the B.C. soccer world. She has created a seven minute video chronicling the successes of her team and others, as the sports world slowly accepting girls soccer into the fold.
The video caught the attention of CBC producers, and on Wednesday, Russell was travelling into that broadcaster’s television studios to discuss her story in person. She is being interviewed on Our Vancouver, with Duncan McCue.
“I played in the backyard,” she says in the video. “I was told that girls don’t play soccer.”
“That can’t be a rule,” she told herself then, in disbelief. “But it was.”
That all changed when she nine, when she took her place on the roster for the Blue Mountain Royals.
In 1973, there were only three girls soccer clubs across B.C., she says. “By 1980, there were 317 teams in B.C. In 2002, there were more than 307,000 women and girls playing national.”
Russell feels it’s an important story, and with her experience as a writer and communications coordinator for the University of Fraser Valley, she has the talent to tell it.
“I had the lucky experience of being part of the first generation of girls to play organized soccer in B.C. This video is the final assignment for a course I took on digital storytelling, and it chronicles the development of girls’ soccer in BC in the 1970s and ’80s, in particular the Blue Mountain Soccer Club.”
Russell still plays soccer today, in a Chilliwack women’s league, on the Rosedale Rockers, and encourages her children to love the sport as well.
Three teams, the Blue Mountain Rangers, Devils, and Royals will be inducted into the Coquitlam Sports Hall of Fame on June 18, 2015.
Our Vancouver airs on Saturday (9 a.m.), Sunday (11 a.m.) and Monday (1 p.m.).