‘Absolutely huge’: Stéphanie Labbé’s father and local community react to Olympic victory

EDMONTON-

The Canadians won the gold medal on Friday in a shootout to claim a long-awaited and deserved Olympic medal.

A local connection to the team helps inspire the next generation of players.

Gerry, the father of Canadian goalkeeper Stéphanie Labbé, was having breakfast watching the game with his grandchildren.

The Stony Plain native told CTV News Edmonton he was anxious throughout the game, but his nerves calmed down when the game went to penalties.

“In Stephanie, we trust,” he said with a laugh.

“All she had to do was keep us close, and she did. Then, when she had the chance to close the door, she did.

Stephanie’s father, Gerry Labbé, wore his Canada jersey on Friday morning as he watched the match live with his grandchildren (Supplied)

Stephanie played minor football at Spruce Grove and Mill Woods before securing a career-launching football scholarship. She participated in the 2002 U19 Women’s World Cup in Edmonton and knew playing for Team Canada was something she wanted to do.

She played with the University of Connecticut and then played with Swedish club KIF Orebro for six years. She made her Olympic debut at Rio 2016 where she helped Canada win the bronze medal.

Sweden’s Sofia Jakobsson, left, and Canada’s goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe battle for the ball during the women’s final soccer match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday August 6, 2021, in Yokohama, Japan. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

“It’s huge for Canada,” said Gerry. “Absolutely huge.”

“I can only imagine what this is going to do not just for the girls program, but you know the boys program in the upcoming youth. There are some really good players who have helped build and push this team. where she is now so I’m happy for those people too because they can share that.

David McCarthy, Edmonton Scottish United Soccer Club coach for children aged 4 to 17, said for many young soccer players in Edmonton, victory meant the world.

“It’s pretty amazing, and then that’s all everyone wanted to talk about when they came over, and some people were showing up as things happened,” he said.

“It really creates this amazing buzz.”

Some young enthusiasts attending football camps in the city woke up very early to watch the game live.

“I also play goalkeeper sometimes, so I felt like I could be like that when I’m older, just like her,” said 10-year-old Juliana Martin.

Aspiring soccer star Juliana Martin (CTV News Edmonton)

The aspiring football star said the win made him want to play even more.

“I just want to make the most of my abilities,” she added. “I want to show people just because I’m a girl that they won’t stop me.”