With spring approaching, it signals the beginning of another exciting season of female football to come. Before the opening kickoff in numerous leagues, which includes the Women’s Football Alliance in the United States, an exciting event helps to set the tone for an empowering time to come.
The third annual Women’s World Football Games is scheduled from March 1-6, 2016 in Metairie, Louisiana, in close proximity to New Orleans. Home to the NFL’s Saints franchise, the legendary football city has hosted 10 Super Bowl contests. As Samantha Rapoport, Director of Women’s Engagement for USA Football explains, the New Orleans area, along with the enthusiasm of the Saints was a perfect fit.
“We spoke to several NFL teams and gauged their interest. The New Orleans Saints provided an incredible offer we could not refuse. They were so open to and excited to be the first NFL team to host USA Football’s Women’s World Football Games and we are excited to partner with them.”
Adding to the importance of the Women’s World Football Games is the fact that the event has expanded from four days to six. For novice players looking to learn the game in a structured environment, the beauty of the event is that they shall be part of the new mentor program. Paired up with an experienced player, it becomes an opportunity to not only adjust to the game in a pressure-free setting but subsequently make new friends, one of the game’s key values.
With a series of position meetings and eight practices taking place over the first five days, it is preparation for the excitement to come on the sixth day. Said day involves a pair of games taking place. Considering that registered players come from several countries, each roster is a unique amalgamation, contributing to “borderless football”.
Quite possibly the most exciting feature of this year’s edition of the Games consists of a growing commitment to not just develop players in female football, but to work towards increasing the skills of aspiring coaches. Such a program complements the overall effort of continuously bringing improvement and empowerment to the game. The best part is that such effort shall take place at the Saints facilities, poised to add a big league presence that participants will remember for years to come.
“Yes, we have an official coach training program for anyone (male or female) who is interested in coaching the women’s game, so we can not only develop female players around the world, but we can also develop their coaches. This should help to exponentially grow the women’s game.
In addition, all lunches will be served in the New Orleans Saints lunch room and team meetings with be held where the Saints regularly meet. The women will truly be afforded an NFL experience like no other,” stated Rapoport.
Such an event adds to the proud momentum of women making their mark in football. From Dr. Jen Welter serving a coaching internship with the Arizona Cardinals to Sarah Thomas serving as an NFL official, this current offseason has seen the announcement of the Buffalo Bills assigning Kathryn Smith to the special teams coaching staff.
As a side note, Rapoport and Welter were in attendance at the first-ever NFL Women’s Summit. Held in San Francisco, it was part of the events leading up to Super Bowl 50 which included the attendance of luminaries such as Billie Jean King and Condoleeza Rice. During the week, Rapoport joined Welter as the two were also part of a panel that included Thomas and a pair of Bay Area executives with NFL ties, Ali Towle, the VP of Marketing with the San Francisco 49ers and Qiava Martinez, the VP of Premier Seating and Services for the Oakland Raiders.
Quickly becoming a signature event, Rapoport’s vision for the Women’s World Football Games is testament to her strong leadership, one where she is focused on a collective win for all. The Games serves as a unique gathering built on collaboration, encouragement and fair play. As it continues to rise in prominence, drawing players from all corners of the globe, including Asia, Australia, Canada and Europe, this international presence is essential to the global growth in female football.
Adding to the importance of the event is the fact that many of the participating players have represented their respective countries at previous IFAF Women’s World Championships. As the next Women’s Worlds are scheduled to take place in 2017, the Games is an exciting opportunity to serve as a conduit towards preparing players for the next great gridiron milestone in their careers,
“The legacy component to WWFG is critical. We have seen several international players move to the US to play on American teams after meeting other players at WWFG. We hope to create a global community of female tackle football players so there is a strong bond amongst them at the Women’s World Championships in 2017.
We believe that connecting the world of female tackle football players through this event will result in growth and success for the sport of female tackle football.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
For more information on the Women’s World Football Games, please visit: http://usafootball.com/womens-world-football-games