Canadian soccer team's Ashley Lawrence smiles at a press conference at BMO Field in Toronto during a media availability on Aug. 10, 2021. The 26-year-old fullback/midfielder from Caledon, Ont., who plays her club soccer for Paris Saint-Germain, is up against four other finalists for BBC Women's Footballer of the Year 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Canada’s Ashley Lawrence a finalist for BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year

Canada’s Ashley Lawrence a finalist for BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year

Canadian Ashley Lawrence is one of five finalists for BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2021.

The 26-year-old fullback/midfielder from Caledon, Ont., who plays her club soccer for Paris Saint-Germain, is up against Caroline Graham Hansen (Barcelona and Norway), Sam Kerr (Chelsea and Australia), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal and Netherlands) and Alexia Putellas (Barcelona and Spain).

“Just to be nominated amongst some amazing players is a huge honour, and I think it’s just a testament to the year of success with my club and country,” said Lawrence. “At the Olympics we already had two bronze medals, so it was a collective mindset starting with our coach on changing the colour of the medal. We really bought into that idea.

“At PSG we’ve built something special and so to really make history with this club, winning the league after 14 years of Olympique Lyonnais being champions of France, I know there was a lot of sacrifice and hard work put in.”

Lawrence, who has won 101 caps for Canada, is also one of 20 finalists — along with Canadian teammates Christine Sinclair and Jessie Fleming — for the Ballon d’Or, which goes to the world’s top player.

The BBC award is decided by a public vote (bbc.com/womensfootball), which closes Nov. 8. The winner will be announced Nov. 29.

The shortlist was selected by a worldwide panel including coaches, players, administrators and journalists.

“The popularity of women’s football continues to grow across the globe, and these five shortlisted players as well as their fellow professionals are role models for millions around the world,” Mary Hockaday, controller of BBC World Service English, said in a statement. “The BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year award is now in its seventh year, and as we look to the European Championships next year I’m delighted to once again celebrate the skill and dedication of these incredible women.”

Last year’s winner was England’s Lucy Bronze, who now plays for Manchester City after transferring from Olympique Lyonnais. Bronze also won in 2018. Norway’s Ada Hegerberg earned the award in 2017 and 2019.

Scottish footballer Kim Little, who now captains Arsenal, took the honours in 2016 while Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala (Barcelona) was the inaugural winner in 2015.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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