May 25th, 2024

New female football team arrives in Lethbridge

By Lethbridge Herald on April 23, 2024.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

There is a new football opportunity for female high school players in the city.

The Lethbridge Rams U19 female team began play earlier this month in the Southern Alberta Female Football League in their first season.

The team came to fruition after head coach Justin Tillery, who is also defensive coordinator for the U18 Team Alberta Women’s team, had some discussions with brass at that level and Rams football president Randy Hyland.

“I was discussing with our head coach and some of the other teams from Calgary and they were like well why doesn’t Lethbridge have a team,” recalls Tillery.

“I’m like I don’t know. So I talked with Randy a little bit and I was like, hey we should start this and try to get this thing going, so that we can get more young female athletes involved.”

Tillery thinks the U19 level opportunity is not only good for the growth of football in Alberta but also on a national and globally.

“We really wanted something that is inclusive for everyone,” said Tillery.

“A lot of people think tackle football, (and) they think it’s just for the guys, when actually there’s quite a lot of women and females that are playing football nowadays. So we wanted that opportunity for them to be able to enjoy the game that a lot of guys know and love as well.”

Tillery thinks it’s important to get out there that there is that option for girls to play football.

“That maybe they’ve played peewee football, you know, kind of Grade 5 and 6, and  then when they get into junior high they’re like, ‘Oh’. They kind of stick around and then really there’s no option for them in high school,” said Tillery.

“So we kind of lose them to other sports. So this is just saying you still have that option to continue playing football, especially if you start it at a young age and then have that desire to keep playing.”

The Rams season began at the beginning of April.

“The start’s not too bad,” said Tillery.

“Obviously we’re the new team on the block and we have our growing pains to get through. But the girls that are there, they’re excited, they’re enthusiastic about the sport and they come … to practice and want to learn and get better.”

Players are still more than welcome to come out and join to see if it is for them.

“I think with the foundation that we have now and once we start adding more players, I think we’ll be a pretty strong team for a little while to come,” he said.

The Rams are winless so far through two games.

“We’ve only had two games so far and those two games have been … against the top two teams in our league,” said Tillery.

“Both of those teams had provincial players from last year’s national championship team. So they were quite skilled players and they’ve had players that have been playing for a couple of years now. But we hung in there. I think every team that we’ve played, they’re like despite our small roster size, we’re  tough, we’re gritty, we grind it out, we never give up and that’s kind of our mentality.”

The team has had a jamboree and two regular season games and two have left before provincials at the end of May.

The U19 team is for high school-aged female players from Lethbridge and area.

Teams in the SAFFL include the Rams, Calgary Wildcats ,Foothills Eagles, Airdrie Raiders and Red Deer’s Central Alberta Fire.

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