WWCFL and MWFL stars meet in Tampa for second Women’s World Football Games

With Tampa, Florida’s Skyway Park as the venue for the second annual Women’s World Football Games (WWFG), there was some very proud Canadian content. As women from the world over gathered to learn, while playing, improving their gridiron game and make new friends, the four-day event (which included a competitive game on the final day) continues to build momentum.

Competitors from both of Canada’s elite female football leagues were on-hand for the second consecutive year. The Maritime Women’s Football League (MWFL) from Atlantic Canada, and the Western Women’s Canadian Football League (WWCFL), proudly representing the Prairie Provinces saw an increase in attendance from their players.

In addition, there were players from both leagues who were appearing for the second consecutive year. As the only four Canadian women that were in attendance last year, the return of the MWFL’s Capital Area Lady Gladiators players Stephanie Bosse and Alex Black, along with the WWCFL’s Edmonton Storm squad, featuring Steph Mackie and Tanya Henderson displayed the importance of the event.

For Mackie, the University of Alberta-educated competitor, the chance to return once again was highlighted by the friendships made, and the love of football, which is the common thread shared among all the women in attendance. Being surrounded by so many empowering and enthusiastic competitors was highly treasured,

“We are all pioneers, and this event brings us together. I love that about football. There is a football family. At the WWFG, I have been able to develop my skills with the help of some of the most amazing coaches that have taken a chance on women.”

A defensive back for the Lady Glads, Bosse has also earned MWFL All-Star honors in 2012. Having had the opportunity to hoist the Judy Upward Trophy as league champion, Bosse is very proud of her football roots. The increase in Canadian attendance served to enhance the experience for Bosse.

“Back in 2014, I attended the first WWFG in Arlington Texas. There were 4 Canadians in total. The second WWFG doubled their numbers and this year, 15 Canadians attended this skill camp, an unforgettable event! I am very proud to be Canadian and sharing this experience with other Canadians is priceless.”

As both Bosse and Mackie hope to one day don the Canadian jersey at the IFAF Women’s Worlds, they had the opportunity to gain consultation and instruction from some highly accomplished competitors. Among them was a veteran of close to two decades in female tackle football.

American-born Missy Bedwell was among the established superstars providing instruction at the second edition of the WWFG. Having first played with the Lake Michigan Minx in 1999, this former softball superstar has carved a strong legacy with the DC Divas. Joined by several other Divas, including the likes of Callie Brownson and Donna Wilkinson, the chance to share her knowledge of the game with the likes of Canadians such as Bosse and Mackie was very enjoyable.

“I have been playing women’s pro football for 17 seasons now and for me, to see how far the sport has come was most amazing. To see women from around the world on the same field from so many countries getting together, all for the love of the game.”

Like so many other veteran players, Bedwell is very proud of the growth the game has experienced, and the chance to participate at the WWFG is her way of giving back to the game. There was also a chance for Bedwell to share some of the tricks in her trade, including how to dry cleats.

“Not everyone speaks the same language or eats the same food but football can bring is a universal language. I think the most helpful advice I gave while at camp was to put new paper inside your cleats to dry them faster after rainy day practice. It absorbs the moisture quickly without heat and without leaving behind fuzz bunny like paper towels.”

The feeling of friendship and support brought very positive inspiration for Bosse. Currently, she is hoping to qualify for the roster of the New Brunwsick provincial women’s team. Among one of the ways that she is giving back to the game is by helping organize a fund-raiser for said team. Working tirelessly to organize the 2015 Football New Brunswick Social & Auction (with Team Canada alum Robyn Neill), her leadership skills shone through, willing to do the work off the field needed to help grow the game.

“I am currently trying out for team NB in hopes to compete at the National Cup 2015, where I hope to see my fellow WWFG2 ladies again.”

Bosse’s dedication and enthusiasm is reflected in her love for the game. Already with plans to attend next year, she definitely embodies the game’s ambitious and energetic spirit. The effort made just to arrive in Tampa was highly evident. She reflects on the aspects, from the journey to the final outcome, which composed an unforgettable experience,

“The highlights of my trip included: driving 30 hours to get to Tampa; sharing this love for football with women all over the world with friends and family I love; and of course playing ball! This would have to be one of the best experiences in my life.

Having the best coaches, learning mental aspects of the game and enjoying myself are some of the other highlights. I could endlessly talk about how great of an experience this was and cannot wait for next year to come!”

While Mackie aims to bring the Edmonton Storm its first-ever WWCFL championship in 2015, the experience from Tampa has only served to contribute fundamentally sound skills to her very promising game. Although the experience itself provided great personal satisfaction, Mackie is equally excited at the bigger picture, revealing an exciting era for global sporting equality.

“This whole event is opening a door for opportunity for girls to play and build that esteem and be a part of the team without discrimination. I love everything about this event. Having never had the opportunity to play growing up; my high school team did not exactly let girls play on the team.

Meeting passionate women and learning about their culture, having no judgment, being able to challenge myself in a comfortable and safe environment. Plus, being one of 150 women to pave a new road for girls world wide.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Photo description: Lady Glads teammates Alex Black (left) and Stephanie Bosse proudly don the Maple Leaf on their football helmets (Obtained from Facebook)

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