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The first two women have been honored in the Builders Division of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame

The first two women have been honored in the Builders Division of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame

Managers Christine O'Connor and Leta Sokalski have been inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, the first women to be added to the Builders' Division.

O'Connor and Sokalski helped develop the game in Manitoba and BC, respectively. They will be honored on May 4 at the annual Canada Football Awards.

“This is a significant milestone for our sport as we honor the first two women inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame,” Charmaine Crooks, president of the Canadian Football Association, said in a statement. “Kristin O'Connor and Lita Sokalski were pioneers in women's soccer in the 1980s, but have evolved into outstanding leaders over several decades and left a lasting legacy for our sport from the local game to the national level and beyond.”

O'Connor was president of Soccer Manitoba from 2010 to 2012, during which time she helped lobby Winnipeg to become a host city for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. She also had a long managerial career at the club, league and provincial levels and was honored as a Life Member of Manitoba Soccer.

O'Connor is a member of both the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Soccer Hall of Fame. She was the first woman on the Manitoba Soccer Board of Directors and served as the first president of the Manitoba Women's Soccer Association.

She also served as the first female tour manager for the Canadian women's national team from 1986 to 1990.

Sokalski served as president of BC Soccer and later became a member of Canada Soccer's board of directors, but also played a key role with the Metro Women's Soccer League in the early 1980s, which grew to 72 clubs across as many as five divisions.

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Sokalski was president of BC Soccer from 1987 to 1990, treasurer from 1990 to 1998, a board member in 1999-2000 and vice-president from 2000-2001 to 2001-2002. She was a member of the Board of Directors of Canada Soccer from 2003-2004 to 2005-2006 and was also a member of Canada Soccer's Women's Advisory Board.

She was later honored as a Life Member of BC Soccer.

The Canadian Football Hall of Fame honors Canada's athletes, coaches, referees and builders of the game. Since 2000, the Hall has welcomed 142 players, 13 coaches, 10 officials and 45 construction workers as honored members.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2024.

Canadian Press

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