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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs