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Women of the CPL: the Magic Behind Matchday

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March 16, 2023 – Canadian Premier League (CPL)Atletico Ottawa News Release

Throughout March, the Canadian Premier League will celebrate the contributions and showcase the impact of the women of the Canadian Premier League. We are proud to recognize the influence the women of our League have on our community both individually and collectively. We hope their stories inspire girls and women to see a future in our beautiful game, whether on the field or off of it, because if she can see it, she can be it.

Today, Ashley Jimenez, Matchday Director, Cavalry FC, and Kristen Johnston, Director, Gameday Operations, Atlético Ottawa, share their experience working in Matchday Operations:

At TD Place Stadium six hours before kickoff, the pitch is serene.

For most of the week the stadium is calm, playing host to training sessions or other events. But something changes on gameday, said Kristen Johnston, Director, Gameday Operations for Atleti.

“It becomes a buzz of energy,” Johnston said. “It’s constant. I arrive about four to six hours ahead of the game to get the show on the road.”

Johnston is the choreographer of matchday, planning and implementing the assets fans interact with including games, entertainers and inflatables.

“Sports is entertainment. So my job is to make fun experiences for the fans so they come back and fill the seats,” she said.

Johnston works with volunteers and matchday staff to get everything set up as efficiently as possible, leaving time to deal with unexpected bumps in the road.

“Before the match I’m running around meeting the inflatables company, the (pyrotechnics) company, and making sure the entertainers are here,” Johnston said. “Of course people forget certain materials they need for set up, like rope, so it’s my team’s job to fill those gaps too.”

Meticulously planning the matchday schedule prior to gameday helps Johnston keep everything on track.

Leading up to games, she runs meetings to discuss themes, content and entertainment to hire. From there, she will create a production rundown and a script for the announcer, as well as meet with safety and fire technicians.

“While we focus on fun for the fans, we also focus on welfare,” said Johnston. “I’m not sure people realize how much time we spend on their concerns and their safety. We take that very seriously.”

Things can still go wrong. Johnston must be prepared for any situation, the most challenging part of her job. It is also a duty she shares with Caitlin O’Brien, Coordinator,…

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