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 British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid