August 25, 2018 8:22 pm
Updated: December 19, 2018 4:53 pm

First girls tackle football league expands to Regina and Yorkton

There are first-time players, flag football converts, and CFL offspring, but they all have one thing in common – breaking new ground in football. Cami Kepke has more.

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Melville and Moosomin made Saskatchewan football history earlier this year by launching the first midget girls tackle teams.

Now around 30 Regina athletes are gearing up for a four game season.

There are first-time players, flag football converts, and CFL offspring, but they all have one thing in common – breaking new ground in football.

READ MORE: Girls’ flag football taking important steps in Saskatoon

The newly-minted Regina Victorias hosted its first practice on Saturday.

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“I like the aggression, and contact,” Kamryn Maurer, the daughter of former Roughrider Mike Maurer, said. “I’m pretty competitive. I thought it would be fun to try something different.”

More than 100 young ladies in Melville, Moosomin, Yorkton, and Regina will form the league. Each team will play two home and two away games.

“When I was growing up there were no opportunities to play tackle football,” offensive co-ordinator Claire Dore said. “Occasionally there would be a female playing high school football if the coach was willing, but that was few and far between.”

Quarterback Memphis Hartman played three years of tackle on a boy’s team, and is excited to make the switch.

“I love being with a group of people that you know will cheer you on no matter what,” Hartman explained. “If you screw up, that doesn’t matter. they’re always there and they’ll help you and make players. You make a lot of friends.”

While she’s excited to be a trailblazer, Hartman knows she can hold her own on the field in any league.

“I was a quarterback, and yeah, I was beating the boys,” She added with a laugh. “But I didn’t feel like my gender mattered. It was just that I had the skills to do it.”

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Five women and three men will lead the Victorias from the sidelines. Seven of the coaches have played for or coached the reigning WWCFL champion Regina Riot, and three boast Team Canada experience.

“For us to see men coaching women when we have women who have the knowledge and expertise, why wouldn’t we want to have women being the demonstrators, being the role models for young women?” Dore said. “All it really took was an ask.”

The significance isn’t lost on the players.

“They played for the best. Now they’re coaching us to be the best,” 15-year-old Hannah Johnson said.

Dore, who also coached the Regina Riot and Balfour Bears, hopes to see the league become a feeder system for adult teams like the Riot and Saskatoon Valkyries.

Head coach Ryan Hall says the step forward is overdue.

READ MORE: Canadian soccer star Stephanie Labbé can’t play in Premier Development League because she’s a woman

“It’s like hockey twenty years ago,” The veteran coach recalled. “It was rare to hear of a girl playing hockey and she was usually in a boy’s league. Now hockey for girls is totally popular and we’ve got women in the Olympics playing. Football is just catching up.”

The roughly 30 players range from grades 7 to 12. Their inaugural match may be two weeks away, but coaches are already eyeing expansion.

“It would be great if we had a junior high grade 7/8/9 league and a 10/11/12 league,”Hall added. “We could expand it to Moose Jaw, Weyburn, Estevan, Assiniboia, who knows where else! We could get a whole south Saskatchewan league going.”

There’s a lot of work ahead before the Victorias’ first match, but one thing is already certain – the Queen City is on the hunt for a crown.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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