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Six Cities Plan to Start in Project 8 League Next Year

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Will Likely Own One of The Six Project 8 Teams

ANALYSIS – Earlier today, Project 8 Sports has revealed that six teams are aiming to start teams for 2025 and have submitted applications to Canada Soccer. Three of those teams have been confirmed with Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver, with one of the other three unknown cities potentially being Halifax.

Six Cities Aim to Get Project 8 League Next Year

According to Statista, the metropolitan populations of Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary are first, third, and fourth nationally in Canada. It is no surprise that these three cities got teams first in the league.

READ MORE: Canada’s First Professional Women’s League Announced

This is especially true when all three cities were all interested at one point in having an NWSL team. This might still be the case for Toronto, but with what happened with MLSE not pursuing a WNBA team, it remains to be seen if MLSE is still interested in an NWSL team.

Details on the Three Confirmed Cities

Both Toronto and Vancouver are hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2026. Additionally, both cities will be one of only five cities in Canada and the U.S. to have at least three top-flight pro soccer teams in both men’s and women’s soccer. Los Angeles and Washington D.C. has three, while New York City-New Jersey area is the only one with four professional soccer teams (both New York City and Washington D.C. are getting a team in the new top-flight women’s USL Super League starting later this year). Vancouver will also be the only city in Canada to host both the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the FIFA World Cup (men’s) by 2026.

Vancouver’s team will be owned by MLS’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC while Toronto’s team, named AFC Toronto, will be owned by a collection of individuals like Helena Ruken, Brenda Ha, and Jill Burgin.

Calgary is another city rising with professional sports teams. They now have teams in several different leagues that is not just the NHL and the CFL. This includes the AHL, CPL, CEBL, and the NLL. However, one of Calgary’s women’s sports teams, the Calgary Inferno, folded along with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League back in 2019. That team will be owned by the Calgary Foothills, which has connections to the CPL club, Cavalry FC.

The other major women’s sports teams in Calgary is the Calgary Rage, which plays in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League and also the Calgary RATH of the National Ringette League.

Other Cities in Contention – Halifax Stands Out

It is very likely that one of the other three cities not confirmed yet is Halifax. This is not surprising considering that their local CPL team, the HFX Wanderers FC, consistently ranks first in attendance with nearly 6,000 fans as mentioned by the Media Release of the Canadian Premier League. Tentatively named the Atlantic Women’s FC, this is what they said in their main website (source: Atlantic Women’s FC):

“The Atlantic Women’s Football Club (AWFC) is building a team in Halifax, Nova Scotia that will compete in a newly created Canadian professional women’s soccer league. Team name/branding to be revealed soon.”

It is not as clear, who are the other two cities involved with the league. A big topic around this is the province of Quebec. This is what Diana Matheson, founder of the Project 8 Sports league, said of a potential team in that province (source: Tom Nightingale of the Canadian Soccer Daily):

“We have to have a team there,” Matheson told La Presse’s Justin Vezina. “It will be one of the best teams on the circuit from day one. The pool of female players in Quebec is enormous. There is so much talent in Quebec that we cannot miss it.”

Saying that, at that time it was presumed that eight teams will be part of the inaugural season in 2025. With that number of cities likely being cut to six for 2025, it is entirely possible that Montreal, who has CF Montreal in MLS, might miss out. Ottawa and Hamilton are also other locations to keep in mind, as they both have CPL teams.

As for the sixth city, it will probably come from the West. Greater Victoria and Winnipeg already have CPL teams, so that might give them a leg up over other cities like Edmonton and Saskatoon.

It is also known that there is another ownership group interested in owning a team as noted by news aktuell of pressat which will be announced in the spring.

State of Women’s Sports in Canada

There are three women’s sports leagues to note. They are the Western Women’s Canadian Football League (WWCFL), Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), and the National Ringette League (NRL). However, of those three leagues, only the PWHL is a professional league. The PWHL currently has six teams in the league, including three in Canada with Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto all having teams.

As one can see, Matheson can be seen in the photo in this TSN X post above.

As a result, the Project 8 Sports league will be only the second women’s sport to go professional to have teams in Canada, and the first only professional women’s sports league that is based solely in the country. Also, the launch of the PWHL Toronto team gives AFC Toronto management and ownership confidence.

READ MORE: AFC Toronto City Team Is A Part Of The Project 8 League

This is what Bergin, Chief Marketing Officer of AFC Toronto, said about this in the TSN Radio show called “She’s Got Game,” which is hosted by Michaela Schreiter and Vanessa Sanchez (source: She’s Got Game, TSN Radio):

“We’ve been watching their launch so closely the successes they’ve had here in Toronto, it gives us so much more confidence that we’re on the right path with AFC Toronto.”

There is a lot to excited about with women’s sport in Canada as there is also optimism of a potential WNBA team to come to Toronto (as originally reported by Shireen Ahmed of CBC Sports). Also, with the creation of the tentatively named Project 8 league, they will likely play in the Concacaf W Champions Cup and compete against teams like the NWSL and the Liga MX Femenil leagues.

READ MORE: Canadian Sprinter Andre De Grasse Invests In AFC Toronto

This league will also confirm that the U.S. has professional men’s and women’s soccer leagues north and south of the border, which will only further the development of the game in Concacaf.


Photo Credit: Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports, of a Vancouver Whitecaps FC Logo Headshot, on March 23, 2024.


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