top of page

MAYBE IT'S TIME TO CORRECT GOOGLE!



If you search for Canadian world cup goals, you’ll find Alphonso Davies listed as scoring the first goal in the Canada v Croatia match in 2022. Yet 29 years ago, the first Canadian to score in a World Cup, Canadian Soccer Hall of Famer and current CEO of Canada’s biggest festival of sports, the Good Games @GetOutOutDo, Helen Stoumbos is this week’s guest on NEXT CHPTR CHATS.



Born in 1970, Helen is one of the younger guests on NEXT CHPTR CHATS but with a chosen career as a professional athlete, Helen has seen a lot of transition and change.

 

“Soccer was my everything. I’d race home from school and wait for my dad so that we could practice,” says Helen. “As I was growing up, especially in my teens, people would ask what I was going to do with soccer. I didn’t know, but somehow, I knew it had to be my life.”

 

“In the 80s and 90s there really wasn’t professional women’s sport. There wasn’t a clear path to what I wanted. But I knew, and I think children do know, what made me happy and that was playing soccer.”

 

I was my father’s other son

 

“I had an older brother who passed away when I was young. I think I became a “boy” substitute for my dad. In a time when girls were usually not encouraged to participate in competitive contact sport we played and practiced daily. I played center midfield for the Canadian team at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Sweden when scored the Canada’s first ever goal at a World Cup level. That goal was directly from a corner kick. I knew I could make that goal; we practiced it all my life.”


Over her playing career, Helen won 35 caps for Canada 1993 to 1998. She played in 22 consecutive matches for Canada from 1993 to 1995 (in a time when there was not much action for women athletes) and, as we know, scored Canada's first goal in the 1995 FIFA World Cup in Sweden.



Although Helen’s professional playing career in soccer was curtailed by a knee injury in 1999, that didn’t represent the biggest transition in her life. Being part of the team continued in an alternate form as a broadcaster. “I was still a part of the team. I was still with them, just in a different form,” says Helen. “I was part of the locker room, the comeradery, the social action. I didn’t really know what giving up soccer would mean until much later.”

 

Women in sport – a changing territory

 

“Women’s sport was so much different then. When we played in Sweden, our uniforms were an afterthought by Sport Canada. I think we were all given men’s extra-large jersey’s, shorts and tracksuits to wear. If you can imagine, I’m five foot two.”

 

“Our game was televised but it was broadcast a week after the game in the middle of the night. I don’t think anyone watched. At the time, you played because you loved sport. When I scored that goal, I didn’t know it was Canada’s first. No one mentioned it. As a women’s team you played under the radar. There was no hype or glory.”

 

“Things have changed. I was in Vancouver for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Now there are fan-fests, pre-game parties and sold-out crowds. In Sweden in 1995, there were no crowds. I think the audience was made up of friends and family. It’s great to see all Canadian sport is getting more attention – both men and women. It’s sport that’s important.”

 

Open yourself to opportunity, and opportunity will find you.

 

“I truly believe that. I believe we need to be available to new possibilities. I didn’t have a defined life-plan. At my lowest I found a book that asked a profound question for me – “what can you do today to make yourself feel happy?”

 

“Such a simple question and yet it caused me to really think. If I’m no longer an athlete, what am I?”

 

“It sounds so simple, but since I’d lost my direction, I had to really think about what I could do. My knee continues to be a little bit twitchy, so I haven’t been able to do much. I just walk. I get out. Nature. I just always find that if I’m ever feeling crappy, the best way for me to get out of it is to get out and just do something. Even if it’s just going to the park and walking around a little bit. It just allows me to keep my mental focus and keep me at least moving. I don’t walk fast but just walking and enjoying where I’m at.”



“It was understanding that sport is what is important to me that helped me transition in life. When broadcasting started to slow down, and I was no longer part of the team I went through a dark phase in my life. I knew it was a bad place when I painted my whole house dark brown. Without soccer I didn’t just lose the chance to play, I also lost the camaraderie, the social network, and the friendships. I had to try to find my way back to sport. Playing volleyball changed my whole life. I started playing volleyball and then it became my social circle, but it also allowed me to get out there and just be active. And I love trying different sports. So, I’m also playing pickleball.”

 

Helen takes on the biggest challenge of her career with the GOOD Games


With an extensive history in media production and as a partner in two media production companies and one music production company, Helen has managed and lead many multi-faceted productions.


The GOOD Games (An acronym for Get Out Out Do) may be Helen's biggest challenge yet. A festival of sport, think rock festival but with the theme of sports not music, the GOOD Games is Canada's biggest festival of sport taking place from July 6th to 7th at the University of Guelph. The GOOD Games feature both activities for elite and recreational athletes. As a festival of sport, culture and fun the GOOD Games are designed to capture the pure joy of play - no matter what your age or skill level as an athlete.


Since 2020, The GOOD Games have emphasized wellness, inclusion, and the transformational power of sport for people of all ages and abilities. Along with sports competitions for all levels of athletes, and a free family-friendly festival of activities, The GOOD Games weekend will include:

  • A beach volleyball elite competition featuring former Olympians, national champions, and professional players playing on a court built right in the middle of the festival.

  • The freestyle soccer Canadian championship.

  • Canadian National Pickleball League professional competition.

  • Women’s 50+ soccer event with teams from across the United States and two from Ontario.

  • A number of Indigenous sport and cultural activities.

 

The festival setting is free to attend and offers friends, families, and individuals an opportunity to try out their skills in a fun, no-pressure environment. Recreational activities include three-legged races, a tug of war, obstacle courses, dodgeball, and road tennis. Concerts, food trucks, a BBQ, a beer garden, and a dance party will add to the festive atmosphere, with more activities and events to be announced in the coming months.

 

“Representation is important in sport. As important as it is to see women in sport, it’s equally important to see seniors in sport. I’m excited to tell you that this year’s competition has many older athletes from several countries competing this year in a variety of sports,” says Helen. “The Athletics events will have age categories from 30 to 60+ (and we are working on 70+). The trail runs (5k and 10K) also have the same competitive age groups. There’s slo-pitch, basketball, soccer, beach volleyball, pickle ball – 10 sports in all.”

 

For more information check out https://thegood.games


NEXT CHPTR CHATS podcasts are available on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts from. For the full podcast https://sites.libsyn.com/477528/keep-moving-helen-stoumbos-talks-about-the-need-for-sport-in-our-lives


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page