Abbotsford’s Bryana Buttar has signed with one of the top women’s soccer leagues in North America.
The former Canada West rookie of the year announced her commitment to the St. Albert, Alta.-based Impact FC of United Women’s Soccer last week.
The UWS is a second-division pro-am women’s soccer league, considered to be just a step below the top-ranked National Women’s Soccer League. The 2019 season saw 22 teams from all across North America compete in the UWS.
Impact FC is an expansion club for 2021 and is the second Canadian team in the league, joining the Calgary Foothills franchise which has been in the league since 2017.
The 2021 league schedule has not yet been released, but it’s expected that games will occur from May to July. The UWS features a number of veteran players and also college-aged players like Buttar. The league gives the opportunity for top-level post-secondary athletes to compete at a high level during the offseason.
Buttar said she’s thrilled for the chance to finally return to the pitch after a 2020 that saw limited opportunity to do what she loves.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “Some of the girls on Impact are from the same group when I played on the Nationals back when I was 13 or 14. I’m 19 now so it’s really cool to get back into that kind of environment again. I just want to work really hard in the summer and get ready for my upcoming season.”
The 2019 Abbotsford Senior Secondary School grad has been on the pitch for most of her life, and helped the Canadian U-15 girls soccer team to a gold medal at the inaugural CONCACAF U15 championships in the Cayman Islands back in 2014. She went on to excel at the youth level with Surrey United and with the Whitecaps FC Girls REX program.
Buttar went on to have an excellent rookie season with the UFV Cascades in 2019, collecting four goals in 15 games. She was named the Canada West rookie of the year that season, and was also named to the U Sport all-rookie team.
She decided to transfer to Kingston, Ont.’s Queen’s University for 2020, but COVID-19 had other plans for that season. She said the motivation behind leaving UFV was to experience a new environment.
“I’ve been living in Abbotsford my whole life and I kind of wanted to get out of my comfort zone,” she said. “And the Queen’s program is really good, with great training and some really good players.”
The Queen’s Gaels finished the 2019 regular season with a record of 12-0-2, but then bowed out in the Ontario University Athletics quarterfinal round. Buttar said that the pandemic cancelled the 2020 season, and Queen’s could only stick to training. She plans to return to the Gaels later this year.
Buttar said it’s really all dependent on the state of the pandemic, noting she may decide to go play professionally overseas if opportunities in North America are unable to come together. Ultimately she said her goal is to one day play the sport professionally at the highest level she can achieve.
She added that Impact FC providing the chance for her and other women to play this summer is a nice step forward for the women’s game in Canada.
“This is a big thing for players in Canada,” she said. “I have a chance now to stay in my country and have a semi-pro team to play on during the summer. So many places don’t have teams – B.C. doesn’t have a team – so this new team is opening up a lot of doors for me and hopefully more good things are coming.”