Clinic consultation

Steph Labbé brings smiles and a soccer clinic to young women in Calgary

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Steph Labbé couldn’t help but smile at the world around her.

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Dozens of young girls kicking around the soccer ball brought back a flood of memories of how his journey to Olympic gold began.

“When I see them running around and having a smile on their face, I totally see myself there,” said the Canadian goalkeeper legend, whose Stephanie Labbé Champion Tour — a series of youth soccer clinics — has come to a halt Thursday at SAIT Field in Calgary.

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“I was young at that age and I was just having fun kicking the ball, smiling without really knowing the future that awaited me,” continued Labbé. “And I had the same passion and pleasure as them.”

Certainly, there was a lot of joy on the day of the camp, since 190 young female talents – aged 7 to 17 – took part in the sessions led by Labbé.

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The focus was on developing basic skills – including passing, dribbling and shooting – and mental preparation. To kick things off, she threw in a penalty shootout and some mini-games for the girls.

“For me to be able to do this here in my home province and in the province where I grew up and in Calgary — my new home, giving back to the community that has given me so much — is amazing,” said the 35-year-old. -old -old Edmonton native, who makes time at the clinics to deliver a motivational speech, host a question and answer period and have welcome and autograph sessions. “Having this opportunity to come here and engage with the girls and talk to them one-on-one and give them advice to teach them some of the things that I’ve learned in my career is something that I am very excited to do.

“The most important thing for me is just that they have fun and leave with a smile,” continued Labbé. “At the end of the day, that’s what this sport is all about. It’s about having fun and enjoying it and being around good people.

This tour is made possible for local players through CMSA’s EmpowerHER initiative which strives to attract and retain women in football. EmpowerHer provides and promotes opportunities focused on increasing participation and retention in football with ways to advance on the pitch, as well as opportunities for young women to confide

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nce and develop life skills off the pitch.

“I think the most important thing is to follow your passion and believe in yourself,” Labbé said. “There will always be people who will tell you that you’re not good enough and tell you that you can’t do it. I’ve had people say that to me my whole career. But believing in myself has taken me to amazing places. And I think as long as these girls believe they can achieve anything, anything can happen.

This was the case for Labbé herself.

The star keeper became a mainstay of Canada’s acclaimed national team from 2008-22, retiring after the team triumphed at the Tokyo Olympics last summer to bring gold to a frantic nation of fans .

It was truly the pinnacle of her career, and she wants to share the journey – and the process that brought her to this golden moment – ​​with Canadians.

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“I know how much this gold medal impacted on this country and on young people across the country,” said Labbé, who wants to stay involved in developing future talent. “Honestly, there are so many highlights (in my career), it’s really hard to pick just one. I think it’s pretty obvious to say that Tokyo was right up there. To win this gold medal was extremely special, and to do it with such a large group of people (it was awesome).

“But I think for me it’s like the memories and the people I’ve met along the way. I’ve met so many amazing people who will be friends for life for me. Those are times that I will cherish forever.”

tsaelhof@postmedia.com

http://www.twitter.com/ToddSaelhofPM

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