When Janet Lemieux began to play soccer in the 1970s in Edmonton, there were no female teams. So, she played with the boys.
“I don’t even know if they knew I was a girl. I had short hair and they didn’t call me Janet,” she said.
Lemieux is one of eight women, who were recently inducted into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame. She is one of the original members on Canada’s first female national team in 1986
By Grade 7, Lemieux played far better than her male peers. However, her team began to realize she wasn’t a boy.
“They didn’t like that. I had to go into track and field instead,” she said.
Lemieux went on to play soccer for the Edmonton Angels and the club dominated the national scene, winning five championships in a row. By 1986, Lemieux made the national team as a sweeper. The team included Charmaine Hooper, who would go on to become Canada’s first female soccer star. The Canadian Soccer Association put the team together, aiming for the 1988 FIFA Women’s Tournament in China.
|The Woman’s national soccer team in 1986. (Canada Soccer Archives)|
There was little support or appreciation for female soccer players at the time. Lemieux had to give up her job to be on the national team and played for free. There was little gear — Lemieux used youth male cleats.
“We played for passion. For the love of the game,” she said.
In total, Lemieux played six games on the national team. The first was at a tournament in Minnesota, where Canada won 2-1 against the U.S.
“That’s when people started to realize we were pretty serious,” she said.
In 1987, Lemieux travelled to Taiwan, where the team played in front of large crowds. It was there Lemieux had her career-ending knee injury against Australia.
“It was devastating,” Lemieux said.
She never played a team sport again.
|Janet Lemieux said it’s the highlight of her sport’s career getting inducted into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame. (Liam Harrap – Revelstoke Review)|
Lemieux moved to Revelstoke in the mid-1990s, eventually working for Okanagan College. She raised two boys locally with her husband Alan Mason.
Lemieux said she looks back fondly on her soccer days.
“I am so pleased what we did may have made a difference for women.”
Since 1986, there have been many national Canadian women soccer teams, playing for various FIFA World Cups.
Today, Lemieux said there are a lot more opportunities in sports, especially for girls.
“Dream big and go for your passion. You will never regret doing the best of whatever you are doing.”
Push yourself, she said.
“Go outside your comfort zone — that’s the life worth living.”
So how did this year's class of legends find out they were being inducted to the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame?
— Canada Soccer Hall of Fame (@CS_HallofFame) May 6, 2021
Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: