If you follow sports of all kinds, you’ll realize these team names belong to women’s pro football teams. Yes, Virginia, they exist. Female athletes in every sport have struggled to gain recognition from the media and the public. Today, women are stepping up their game in the pro football world and gaining huge strides, one yard at a time.
American football has traditionally been driven by men; they coach, play, commentate, and referee the games. Only in the past decade or so have a fair amount of women really come on the scene as far as on-field and ESPN commentators. Women’s sports, especially football, have not been mentioned in the same sentence with “real” sports but two organizations are attempting to change that image.
WFA (Women’s Football Alliance) is seeking to change the perception and exposure of this sport. Just as the men we see on the field exchange their ‘title’ of sons, husbands, and fathers, to professional football player, so do the women. Mothers, daughters, teachers, wives, and coaches turn in their ‘title’ for a uniform and a helmet, and are transformed into a professional football team.
The WFA is comprised of two conferences; National and American, with each league broken up into six regions. The season has 11 weeks of regular season play, three post-season weeks, and yes, a national championship game – the Super Bowl of women’s pro football.
Different from WFA, the IWFL, (Independent Women’s Football League), a non-profit women’s pro football league, is described as “a full tackle women’s football league focused on creating a positive, safe and fun environment for the women who play the game and fans that come out to watch them.”
The IWFL was founded in 2000 by a group of women dedicated to making the sport a household name. The IWFL currently has over 1600 women playing the sport for 51 teams across North America from Southern California to Montreal and Washington to Florida with consistent expansion into new markets.” The IWFL is the only recognized professional women’s tackle football league.
IWFL’s mission is to enable women to play tackle football by supporting the member owners of the IWFL with a stable organization that can draw on and combine the resources of the IWFL to promote the women athletes who play football. They recently partnered with Offense-Defense Football Camps to provide top-notch training and skills for the league’s players. According to a recent press release, “These new IWFL endorsed camps will provide attendees top-notch training with highly qualified NFL and collegiate level coaches as well as opportunities to learn from current and former NFL players.”
Although doubtful ESPN will ever televise women’s pro football games, it’s a growing movement of women athletes, seeking to excel in their sport. I also highly doubt that make-up, curlers, or flat-irons are a part of the locker room experience. But adorn these powerful women in uniforms, padding, and helmets, and they’re truly a force to be reckoned with.