Lisa Gomes representing new generation of Canadian female football heroes

Emerging as one of the premier players for the WWCFL’s Calgary Rage, running back Lisa Gomes has seen her career grow by a quantum leap. All indications are that the calendar year 2017 may prove to be the most memorable in her dynamic career.

From the outset, Gomes earned a spot on the Canadian national women’s football team. With this year’s IFAF Women’s World Championships being contested this summer in Vancouver, the chance to go for gold on home soil brings with a tremendous sense of national pride. Subsequently, it adds to the momentum of Canada’s sesquicentennial, another significant event during a year-long celebration.

Adding to such jubilation was the fact that Carly Dyck, who was also named to Canada’s national team for the first time, joined Gomes at the Women’s World Football Games (WWFG). Having also attended last year’s edition of the Games, their careers have run parallel, emerging as two of Canada’s finest on the gridiron.

Taking place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports facility in Orlando, Florida, this highly accomplished duo brought an increased confidence to the event. Although the two were once rivals in the WWCFL’s Western Conference, where Dyck spent her first two seasons with the Lethbridge Steel before moving on to Saskatchewan, there was never a shortage of mutual respect between the two. For Gomes to be able to share the great gridiron experiences with her only adds to the enjoyment of the game,

“Carly and I become a lot closer because of football. We have been playing each other for years and for once, we finally get to be on the same team. It means a lot to me to be able to play with a close friend and especially on a national team. I cannot wait to represent my country with Carly come June.”

The five-day event ran parallel to the week-long festivities leading up to the NFL’s annual AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, which was also hosted in Orlando. As a side note, Team USA also held its tryouts for the 2017 IFAF Women’s Worlds at the Wide World of Sports facility, three days before opening kickoff of the WWFG.

Compared to last year’s edition of the WWFG, Gomes had a different approach this year. While the WWFG is definitely one of the signature events on Gomes’ gridiron calendar, always approaching it with great anticipation, there was a delightful buoyancy and poise in 2017. Considering that Gomes is among one of the familiar faces among Canada’s female football heroes, such feeling is reciprocated. While there are a growing number of competitors annually, familiar faces from other countries only adds to Gomes’ feelings of elation and accomplishment.

“I certainly felt more confident as a player this year. The atmosphere was exactly how I remembered it; encouraging, cheerful but with a lot more familiar faces. With all the NFL players walking around for Pro Bowl, it was undoubtedly an incredible experience.”

In action with Team Blue at the 2017 WWFG (Image obtained from: http://www.colts.com/photos/photo-gallery/2017-NFL-Pro-Bowl—Day-Four—WOMENS-WORLD-FOOTBALL-GAMES/62833b51-9334-46f5-8bb9-fb6e54420544)

Undoubtedly, the NFL’s energetic influence was prevalent throughout such a memorable week. While Gomes and all participants at the WWFG had the opportunity to attend the Pro Bowl, there was another aspect to the NFL’s exciting presence. Currently in a capacity as the NFL’s Director of Football Development, Samantha Rapoport, a former quarterback with the Montreal Blitz, brought both worlds of men’s and women’s football together in an empowering event dedicated towards the advancement of women in all facets of football.

Rapoport was instrumental in helping to organize the NFL Careers in Football Forum, focused on opportunities for women in football, which all registered players were invited to. Among the speakers were Kathryn Smith, the NFL’s first full-time female coach, who spent the 2016 season with the Buffalo Bills. In addition to Smith, Buffalo was represented by Kim Pegula, a co-owner of the franchise. Other prominent women in football who shared their insights included Dawn Aponte, a former executive vice president with the Miami Dolphins (of which Serena and Venus Williams are part owners), Michelle McKenna-Doyle, the NFL’s Chief Information Officer, plus Kimberly Fields, who currently serves in the capacity as the NFL’s Senior Vice President of Football Operations.

With an event built on the core values of encouragement and empowerment, there was also an exciting surprise. Images from the WWFG were actually featured on the Indianapolis Colts website. Among the competitors featured on the site included Gomes, decked out in her Team Blue jersey, and Dyck, donning the colours of Team Red.

“Well at first I was shocked to see the Women’s World Football Games on the site. There was a whole album of us, it was wonderful! Then I saw myself with the Canadian decals on my helmet and my mouth just dropped. It was amazing, I felt half famous. I will without a doubt be attending WWFG5.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Image obtained from: http://www.colts.com/photos/photo-gallery/2017-NFL-Pro-Bowl—Day-Four—WOMENS-WORLD-FOOTBALL-GAMES/62833b51-9334-46f5-8bb9-fb6e54420544

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