Building a Winning Culture

In 2018, as the Blue Devils men’s League1 side prepare for an action-packed season, featuring an historic Canadian Championship appearance, Blue Devils FC announced the Blue Devils family would grow with the addition of a new women’s League1 Ontario team.
“We are primarily focused at this stage on creating a very well-blended roster,” said Blue Devils’ Managing Director Duncan Wilde at the time.
“We’ll have a mixture of senior academy, USports, NCAA and also graduated players in our women’s team. We have found that mix works well for us on our men’s side and with the philosophy we have at the Blue Devils. We want a good blend of youth, college player and some experience in there to gel it together.”
The first two official signings for the Blue Devils women’s side were Jamaican international Oshay Lawes and Laura Twidle, who remains a co-captain of the Blue Devils to this day.
Although the women’s side was a new addition at the time for the Blue Devils, it was not the first time Wilde and his staff have run a top-class women’s program. In the club’s previous iteration as the Toronto Lynx, Wilde and his team ran successful sides in both the men’s USL PDL league and the now former women’s W-League. The Lady Lynx program features many high-profile alumni including names such as Kedeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence among many others.
Leading the launch of the new Blue Devils L1 women’s team was Head Coach John Yacou, a former Assistant to Brett Mosen for the McMaster University women’s program, who also served as Head Coach of the North Mississauga women’s League1 team.
The team completed their inaugural 2018 League1 season in fourth place with a respectable 7-4-1 record, finishing on 22 points. Leading the way were League1 All-Stars Laura Twidle and Mahira Ali. Ali, a former Egypt Women’s international, proved to be a phenomenal attacking talent, chalking up 16 goals and winning the 2018 League1 Ontario Goal of the Year in an outstanding rookie season.
The 2019 season brought important additions to the lineup including co-captain and former Canadian international Rachel Melhado to help anchor the back line. Combining with Twidle and Ali and an inspired side led by Head Coach John Yacou, the Blue Devils tore through the League1 regular season finishing with a record of 11-2-0, securing 47 points and winning the League1 regular season championship. Unfortunately the Blue Devils lost 1-0 in playoff final but there was still much to celebrate.
In only their second season, the Blue Devils women won a League1 Ontario regular season Championship, produced five League1 All-Stars in Laura Twidle, Mahira Ali, Rachel Melhado, Elisa Lapadula, and Erin Cliffe, and John Yacou was named League1 Women’s Coach of the Year.
As women’s football continues to explode worldwide, the Blue Devils aim to continue building on their early successes with the development of the strong and vibrant Blue Devils Academy and the League1 women serving as inspirations and leaders for the next generation.