News / USA

Women Thriving in Traditionally All-Male American Football

The Baltimore Nighthawks line up against the Philadelphia Firebirds
The Baltimore Nighthawks line up against the Philadelphia Firebirds
Tala Hadavi

American Football has supplanted baseball in recent years as America's favorite sport.  But though men and women both enjoy it, it has traditionally been played almost entirely by men.  The past few years, however, have seen the debut of a number of women's leagues - playing by the same rules and with the same level of contact as the men's sport.  

When you think about American football, you envision it being played by heavily-padded big men making violent contact with each other. But Tarsha Fain, team captain of the Baltimore Nighthawks says, think again.

"I feel women can do anything a man can do," said Fain.  "The same way they get out there and hit, we get out there and hit too."

Fain and team owner Tanya Bryan were part of the first ever women's World Championship tournament played last year.  The U.S. team, with Fain playing and Bryan serving as team manager, won the gold medal.

"To be the first, the first time it was done, and be a part of it, no one else can ever say that," said Bryan.  "So it's just a wonderful feeling and I'm so proud of that."

And the sport is growing.  Perhaps a dozen women's professional leagues have been formed in the U.S. in recent years, though many of those have either merged or gone out of business.    

Ghoncheh Mossanen is an offensive specialist.  For Mossanen, who has played football for 28 years, the sport is her therapy.  It is what she looks forward to the most.

"I feel the transformation when I go from putting on my gear and stepping on this football field. It's a huge mental transformation," Mossanen explained.

Mossanen moved to the U.S. from Iran as a child and still remembers the first time she ever played football in a neighborhood pickup game.  

"I remember getting the phone call from my cousin saying 'come on out, we need one more person to play.' I didn't know what it was. I had never played the game and I remember going out there and just fell in love with it," she recalled.

Most of the other players on the team have also played since they were kids, often either informally or in non-contact leagues.  But for team owner Tanya Bryan, football was a completely new experience.

"It's funny; I didn't even realize the sport existed for women," Bryan said. "And I got a phone call from a friend of mine and she said there was an opportunity to own a team in Baltimore.  And I thought it sounded really exciting and I said yes, and four years later here I am."

When Bryan bought the team she did not expect to make money right away - though after four years, she is now breaking even.  But she thought it was more important to give young women in the area the opportunity to play the sport.

"Most of the time as women growing up we're told not to be aggressive, not to be assertive," Bryan noted.  "It's nice to have an outlet where you can come somewhere and let all of that out.  You can be loud, you can hit somebody. You can just let it all go. It's really healthy and the team camaraderie is fantastic."

The teamwork is evident throughout their recent game against the Firebirds.  After a slow first half, the Nighthawks scored and hung on for an 8-0 win, qualifying them for the playoffs.

"It's elation!  I mean the team deserves it.  We've been playing hard.  It's amazing. Now it's our chance to make the championship," said Mossanen.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid