(Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)

Janine Beckie has become co-owner of the Simcoe County Rovers FC, a new semi-professional League1 Ontario club.

The club currently has signed five players, with an open trial set for late February and an invite-only session in March. The club hopes to be an outlet for women’s players who are shut out by the North American system after competing at the collegiate level.

Beckie told the Toronto Starju that she sees the club as a stepping stone to starting a professional women’s league in Canada.

“If we want the sport to continue to grow in our country, young girls have to see their idols and their peers playing the game at a high level,” she said. “And although (Rovers) is not the highest level that we want to see in the country yet, it’s a stepping stone.”

“You don’t go from zero to 100… That’s why I’m really excited about being a part of this project, because this is one of those stepping stones.”

Currently, the club plays in the women’s Premier Division, which is considered the highest level of soccer in Canada. On the men’s side, the Premier Division is the third club tier.

Recent success of the Canadian women’s national team, including winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics, has bolstered the case for a professional league in the country.

Beckie is currently a forward for the Canadian women’s national team and Manchester City.