Saskatoon's Julie David tries to evade Lethbridge's Raelynn Callaway in the WWCFL championship.In all the hype over the Lingerie Football League's invasion of Canada, it would be easy to miss that this country already has women playing tackle football at a high level—and in standard uniforms rather than their underwear. The Western Women's Canadian Football League, the first all-female interprovincial tackle football league in Western Canada, wrapped up its second season last Saturday with the Saskatoon Valkyries (here's hoping they use Wagner as intro music) defeating the Lethbridge Steel 64-21 in the title game. It was the Valkyries' second-straight WWCFL championship and undefeated season, and their talent-stocked roster shows there are plenty of top female athletes competing in this league. The WWCFL's continued success also might suggest that it could be a valuable partner for CIS, the CFL or both.
What's interesting about the Valkyries is how much of their talent comes from athletes already proven at a high level, but in other sports. That's evident from the University of Saskatchewan Huskies' release about the championship; eight Huskies from the women's hockey, women's basketball, women's soccer, wrestling and track and field programs played for the Valkyries this season. Soccer star Julie David, a defender with the Huskies' varsity team, proved she can shine on the gridiron too in the final, scoring five touchdowns as a rusher, one as a receiver and finishing with 277 all-purpose yards. These WWCFL teams have plenty of elite athletes, and they have solid coaching too; for example, the Valkyries featured five coaches from the Huskies' men's football team. This is a quality product, and it's nice to see so many proven CIS athletes and coaches associated with it.
The WWCFL's still relatively new, but the seven-team league has made it through two seasons now and appears to be going strong. As such, it might be a valuable organization for CIS, the CFL or both to partner with on some level at some point down the line. There are already lots of female football fans out there, but there aren't a lot of opportunities for women to play tackle football at a decent level, and that may reduce the appeal of the game as a whole for some. The WWCFL shows that tackle football can be a woman's game, too, and that women's football doesn't always have to come with the trappings (and problems) associated with the LFL. Promoting that message, even on a minor level, might help draw more female fans to the men's leagues as well. At the very least, it could help to reduce the image of football as a guys-only club, and from this corner, that would be a positive move.