REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Soccer Association is encouraging more women to get into coaching.

The provincial soccer body has introduced the Female Coach Mentorship Program, an extensive months-long workshop designed to empower women across the province. 

“We really want to do the best that we can in terms of investing in future female leadership. And the only way to get it done is to bring people together,” said Rahim Mohamed, Sask Soccer’s director of soccer

Mohamed said Sask Soccer expected a handful of women to apply for the program, but is now working with 20 participants. 

“We’ve greatly exceeded the expectations and we very much underestimated the desire for a program like this from our membership,” Mohamed admitted. 

One of the participants is Faith Jasper. The 20-year-old has been coaching with Queen City United in Regina for the last four years but admits she was concerned about jumping into coaching. 

“I was more or less nervous to put my foot in and take a leadership role in such a male dominant world,” Jasper said. 

Jasper is not the only woman tackling this issue. Besides Priestman, head coach of the Canada women’s national soccer team, it is challenging to think of another female head coach in soccer, which is one of the reasons Sask Soccer was motivated to introduce the program. 

“Leading provincial programs or for example technical directors of provinces, there isn’t a female technical director of a province right now,” Mohamed said. 

For Jasper, female representation is important from both a coaching and players perspective.

“I never had a female coach, I had one female coach but she was my assistant coach, I think that is tough,” Jasper said. 

Participants in the program have access to mentors, the opportunity to take part in workshops and engage in discussions with other female leaders once a month. 

Most recently, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Carmelina Moscato spoke with the group. 

“She shared her professional struggle, barriers she might have faced through being a female in sport as well as her experiences as a player and a coach,” Jasper said. 

Sask Soccer knows programs like this can act as the first step in kicking through the glass ceiling. The organization plans on offering the program on an annual basis. 

“We have our longterm goals of what we want to see in high performance in female participation but we need to start now in order to get there,” Mohamed said. “We want them to be more confident and competent in their opinions in their coaching as well.”