Women’s Soccer News

Representation matters.

That’s why Amou Madol, the starting centre back for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies’ women’s soccer team, takes a lot of pride in all she has achieved. As a Black student athlete in a sport where there are often not many other people who look like her, being able to help grow the sport means a lot — and the month of February brings with it the perfect opportunity to do just that.

“Growing up, I didn’t really see a lot of representation of Black athletes,” said the fourth-year student out of Regina. “I think it is important to bring awareness to Black History Month and get people to understand the importance of having that visibility within sports because we want to have diversity, we want Black athletes to excel and achieve their goals.”

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Even across different sports, Madol believes the presence or absence of other Black athletes makes a huge difference. Having also participated in high jump at the University of Regina prior to joining the Huskies, the dual-sport athlete could clearly see the discrepancy between the two. Inside the oval, she was joined by other Black athletes that she could connect with, even if they weren’t competing against each other in the same events. For soccer, however, she was often the only Black player on the pitch.

“Why am I the only one that looks like this? Where’s everybody else? I just had to find it within myself to be my own community,” said Madol on growing up and playing soccer from a young age. “I think now, [the diversity] is getting a little better. I’d love to see more Black athletes out there.”

Expanded initiatives in Canadian university-level sports can facilitate advancements in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Jerson Barandica-Hamilton, the Head Coach of the Huskies’ women’s soccer team, supports this notion based on his personal experience, having played soccer for five seasons at the University of Saskatchewan from 2007 to 2011.

“What I’ve noticed the most is the exposure is growing, the professionalism of the programs is growing,” said Barandica-Hamilton. “We talk about Black History Month, but we’re also starting to see a lot of Middle Eastern athletes, European athletes… what I’m seeing is a lot more international kids wanting to come to Canada to study and play at a high level.”

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Outside of the sport, Madol wants to do even more to help and give back to her community. As a student in the pharmacy program, she wants to be able to use her skills to contribute in the healthcare field, aiming to work with under-represented and under-served groups, as well as newcomers to the country. She hopes to help them gain access to healthcare services they need but might not necessarily be able to get easily. 

“I am obviously a visible minority, belonging to a group that sometimes people overlook,” said Madol. “This is an area where people are still not getting the care they need. I just want to be able to give back and help other people in the way I have received help.”

Madol says she genuinely appreciates every bit of support she gets. As one of eight recipients of the Athletes on Track bursary offered by U SPORTS and BlackNorth Initiative (BNI), she received a $5,000 bursary. 

In addition to the financial support, the program offers the chance for a mentor to show her the ropes and guide her toward achieving her goals.

“It’s nice to get opportunities like that to network myself and make connections,” said Madol. “Just figuring out how I can actually make these ambitions and goals of mine happen.”

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And though her schedule remains full as a high-level athlete in a demanding academic program, Madol still finds time to help her community through school initiatives and mentoring younger teammates and classmates. 

“It comes with a lot of scheduling, and just making sure I am very organized,” said Madol. “They’re the people who are supporting us and helping us, giving us energy at our games. Any way that I can, I love to be able to get out there and help.”

Barandica-Hamilton has seen first-hand all the dedication and effort Madol puts in, having gotten to know her well during her time on the team. And according to him, she has proven to be a person who leads by example and does everything with purpose and intention.

“We want our athletes to be the best version of themselves on the field, but also in the classroom and the community,” said Barandica-Hamilton. “Madol is a great example, for up-and-coming players, that you can excel in all three areas.”

For the younger generations of Black athletes who may face similar obstacles while pursuing their dreams in both sports and academics, Madol has some advice. 

“Believe in yourself, and know you can accomplish anything,” said Madol. “Sometimes dreams are scary. If you’re doing something that you love, that you want to do, you need to commit to it and believe that you can do it.”