Top football player Stephanie Labbe kept out of men's league

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image captionCanadian goaltender Stephanie Labbe

A Canadian football player qualified for a men's team but has been told she cannot play because she is a woman.

Stephanie Labbe, 31, tried out for Calgary Foothills FC men's soccer team and was praised by the coach.

But the Premier Development League, a feeder league in North America, said her gender disqualified her.

Ms Labbe helped win a bronze medal for Team Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics and was previously with the National Women's Soccer League.

The former member of the Washington Spirit says that while she "partially" understands the league's position, "it is still unsettling".

"We let others tell us what path we can or can not take or we find a new one on our own. This may be the first road block, but hearing "no" doesn't mean the end, it just means we have to find a diversion around the problem," she wrote in a blog post.

"Whether it is for me or for a young girl who has followed my journey and one day dreams of forging her own path, I will join her fight. Because no one should ever have an opportunity denied solely because of their gender."

Her blog included a note of support from the Calgary Foothills FC head coach, Tommy Wheeldon, who said the team is looking to find a creative solution.

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"Based on Steph's ability, she has shown she can play with us. Whilst this door maybe closed for now, we are looking at other windows of opportunity to stretch Steph's game," he said.

The goalkeeper has received support from other top female athletes.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

In a statement, the league told The Canadian Press that "like virtually all of our peer leagues around the world, the PDL has gender-based eligibility requirements, which we applied consistently in this case."

The league praised Ms Labbe for her ability, and wished her "the best as she continues to pursue her career goals."

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