Booth set to make soccer history

Melanie BoothBurlington’s Melanie Booth has been selected to be part of the National Women’s Soccer League for 2013. She is one of 16 players from the Canadian Soccer Association’s Women’s National Team program who will participate in the inaugural season of the league, set to begin play in the USA this spring.

“The selection process wasn’t easy; in a perfect world we would be able to offer contracts to all the players in the program,” said Canada’s head coach John Herdman. “Ultimately we have a responsibility towards the future of our game to ensure we prepare the next generation as much as we value our veteran players.”

“As part of our planning for Canada’s Women’s National program, we have projected what the team should look like in 2015/2016, and which players could allow us to be successful as a soccer nation,” Herdman added.

“From that, we have identified what we call ‘Gold Medal Standards’, 2015/2016 individual and team standards that the players will need to demonstrate or to be tracking towards to be considered for one of the 16 annual contracts. Players will be accountable and with Individual performance plans they’ll know what to work towards to obtain or maintain their spot in the league. I think this will create a positive competitive setting that should raise the quality of our performances and benefit the program’s growth overall.”

Canada’s Women’s National Team players who obtained a professional contract for the 2013 season are Melanie Booth, Robyn Gayle, Kaylyn Kyle, Karina LeBlanc, Adriana Leon, Diana Matheson, Bryanna McCarthy, Erin McLeod, Carmelina Moscato, Jodi-Ann Robinson, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott, Lauren Sesselmann, Christine Sinclair, Rhian Wilkinson and Emily Zurrer.

Of these 16 players selected by Herdman, 13 were part of the Olympic bronzed medallist team while one (Adriana Leon) was a member of the Women’s U-20 Team that competed in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Japan 2012. McCarthy and Robinson are both making returns to the Women’s National Team program.

The Canadian Soccer Association will subsidize the salaries of the 16 Canadian Women’s National Team players, while U.S. Soccer will do the same for 23 U.S. players and the Federation of Mexican Football will do the same for 16 Mexican players. The club location for all 55 players will be announced on Friday (Jan.11).

“In addition to securing crucial spots in professional environments for an unprecedented number of Canada’s Women’s program players, the National Women’s Soccer League will allow Canada’s players to play and train with the best, while operating under one calendar on the same continent” said Peter Montopoli, General Secretary, Canadian Soccer Association.

“This had been identified as a priority for our Women’s program and as an organization we are pleased to provide this opportunity for our athletes as we move towards FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.”

The U.S. Soccer Federation will administer the league, which will also hold its first college draft on Jan.18.

The eight teams in the National Women’s Soccer League are: Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Sky Blue FC, Washington Spirit, Western New York Flash and Seattle Reign FC.

Booth was named in the Canada squad for the 2012 London Olympics initially as an alternate. But due to injuries to regular Canadian roster team players she was added to the team’s official roster. As a result she received a bronze medal when Canada defeated France.

Booth attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she played for the Gators from 2003-05, before sitting out the 2006 season due to national team commitments. She returned to Florida in 2007 to complete her collegiate career, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in applied physiology and kinesiology in 2008.