Helen Stoumbos

Helen Stoumbos

Portrait by Robert Howson

Helen Stoumbos credits informal backyard practice sessions with her father as the key to her success on the soccer pitch. After first playing the game at age 10, she quickly became a star eventually playing high school soccer at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute.

Next stop was Wilfrid Laurier University where she started to gain national attention. The midfielder helped the Golden Hawks win three provincial titles and one national championship while winning the school’s President’s Award three years running as Laurier’s outstanding athlete. She was an all-Canadian four times.

In 1993 she made her debut for Canada at the World University Games and would go on to play 35 caps for her country. The one record she will hold forever is that she scored the first ever goal at a World Cup for a Canadian player, male or female. It came at the 1995 FIFA World Cup in Sweden in a game against England. Canada trailed 3-0 late in the contest when Stoumbos was asked to take a corner kick. She ripped the ball directly into the net, untouched.

“I bent it like Helen” she said with a laugh during an interview with the CBC. “I just curled it in at the back post. I used to score goals like that when I was young because my dad taught me how to curl it, to banana the ball.”

Her career ended prematurely because of a knee injury just before the 1999 World Cup which forced her to retire before the age of 30. Since then she has pursued a career in broadcasting hosting a couple of television shows about soccer; she’s co-authored a book (Women’s Soccer: The Passionate Game) and worked as a colour commentator for Rogers Sportsnet. Today Helen is the owner of Gleam Media, a Guelph-based videography company, where she hosts and produces a program called “We Live Soccer” for GOL TV in Canada and the Fox Network in the US.

In 2008 she became just the sixth woman inducted in the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.

Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Athlete category – on October 30, 2012