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Why Canada's Women Soccer Players
Must Go Abroad to Play Pro - Part 1


Elevating Women's Pro Soccer in Canada: From College to European Football

Follow the mission of a female soccer player to help bring women’s pro soccer to Canada. She is from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where she started playing soccer at a young age.


You’ll learn how her path led to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, to study and train in France, and now playing professionally in Ireland.


Follow along as she shares her story of the challenges and insights gained along the way. Her story and mission may help other young female soccer players reach their dream of playing professionally in Canada.

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Introduction (Part 1 of 3)

Embark on a remarkable journey with a determined Canadian soccer player as she works relentlessly to elevate women’s professional soccer in her home country. From her early days in Vancouver, British Columbia, to her current professional stint with Shelbourne FC in Dublin, Ireland. 

This story is one of passion, perseverance, and a resolute mission to open doors for aspiring female athletes. In this three-part series, we delve into her transformative experiences, the challenges she faced, and the optimism she brings to the Canadian women’s soccer landscape.

Turning Sadness into Determination

Arriving at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, I felt mixed emotions sadness. I was excited for this new journey to begin, but sad to think I had just a few years left of playing competitive soccer due to limited post-university options. While male players had clear pathways in CPL, MLS, USL, or abroad, female players faced fewer accessible opportunities.

Even now, a well-structured system or assistance for top Canadian female players to sustain their professional careers post-University remains absent. For years, this has been a major disappointment for talented players from the Canadian Collegiate system (USPORTS and CCAA).

Players venturing abroad to play professionally have done so on their own, relying on agents, personal determination, or family connections. These pathways are due to the absence of established systems supporting the growth of women’s professional soccer in Canada.

As a result of insufficient infrastructure, Canada has let down our nation in the world of football. This is especially evident by in the lagging support for behind for years in supporting the growth of the women’s game.

Christie Gray running with arms out celebrating scoring a goal
Christie Gray, celebrating a goal for Queen's University, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Global Studies Spark Optimism

I’m Christie Gray, a women’s soccer player from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Currently playing professionally with Shelbourne FC in Dublin, Ireland.

Before heading to college, I began playing soccer with Dunbar (now Vancouver United), then Fusion FC. I then decided to went travel across Canada to play for Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. located a few hours from Toronto.

Queen’s University offered me the opportunity to pursue playing soccer and advance my education. Located just a few hours west of Toronto and 30 minutes from the U.S. border.

Christie dribbling soccer ball down the field with opposing players following
Christie dribbling towards the goal with players following.

Training with FC Girondins de Bordeaux

During my studies, I trained with FC Girondins de Bordeaux, participating in France’s premier league – Division 1 Féminine (D1 Arkema). I benefited from this opportunity and competed professionally with world-class players from diverse nations.

Navigating the mental and physical challenges of a French professional environment was intense. My lack of fluency in French despite my Canadian roots definitely did not help.

This experience solidified my goal once I graduated school – I would do whatever it took to play pro soccer.

In the midst of this journey, I had the privilege of crossing paths with a fellow Canadian, Vanessa Gilles, within the team. Vanessa took me under her wing, showed me the ropes, and was nice enough to share her locker with me.

I am not sure she realizes it, but she is one of my biggest inspirations to this day. As I’m sure, she is to many other aspiring female soccer players.

At the time, I was 20 years old, living in Europe, thousands of miles from any family. Training with Bordeaux while completing six university business courses was the busiest and most challenging balance environment I have ever experienced.

Christie Gray, in yellow Queen's University uniform jumping up into the arms of her teammates.
Christie celebrating with her Queen's University teammates.

New Pro Women's Soccer Vision for Canada.

Understanding the training necessary to compete at the pro level was extremely beneficial. Experiencing the preparations to play weekend matches against talented professional women’s teams like Montpellier, PSG, and Lyon was enlightening.

Seeing the packed stands, the energy, and the overall support of these games was eye-opening. Due to the lack of visibility into women’s football from Canada, it was a whole new world that I never knew existed. My mission and desire to help bring women’s pro soccer to Canada has already begun with Diana Matheson and Project 8.

Conclusion (Part 1 of 3)

As we conclude this first chapter of Christie Gray’s journey, we’ve witnessed the mixed emotions she felt upon entering Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and the challenges faced by female players in the absence of well-defined post-university pathways. Christie’s global studies sparked optimism, propelling her to professional soccer in Europe. Her story reflects the resilience of athletes who strive to pave the way for future generations.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we explore her international experiences, training with FC Girondins de Bordeaux, and the inspirations she found in her teammates. Christie Gray’s mission to elevate women’s pro soccer in Canada has only just begun.

Part 2 Preview - Crossing the Atlantic: Christie's Journey to Pro Soccer in Europe

PREVIEW: Christie Gray’s journey to professional soccer takes her back across the Atlantic once again. After graduating from college, she set her sights on Europe to pursue her dream of playing professionally. While her vision of playing at home in Canada is not yet a reality, it just might be edging closer. Stay tuned for Part 2 of her incredible journey.
Picture of Christie Gray

Christie Gray

Christie Gray, a Vancouver native, excelled as a student-athlete in college, earning a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada. Her academic achievements matched her soccer skills, securing multiple accolades, including All-Canadian recognition and an OUA Conference Championship.

Furthering her academic and athletic journey, Christie studied at KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux, France, gaining international experience while training with the professional D1 FC Girondins de Bordeaux.

Today, Christie plays professionally for Shelbourne FC in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to her time in Ireland, she played in Karlskoga, Sweden, for RIK Karlskoga.

Her focus extends beyond the pitch; she contributes her services to GIST, a women-founded sports media brand, and serves as a Soccer Talented Ambassador and Mentor, inspiring the next generation of athletes with her achievements and dedication.

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