LANSING, Mich. — A group of female athletes in Lansing is tackling a male-dominated sport.
“Football is probably the most watched sport in the world and when we say we play football, we get questioned like people don’t know what football is just because they hear ‘women’s’ in front of it,” said Jessica Weeks, a Capital City Savages player.
The Capital City Savages, a women’s tackle football team, started in 2017. To recruit new players, Weeks says the team posted flyers around the city, which is how Heather Allward got on board.
“Everyone’s really friendly and everyone was really accepting when I joined the team,” said Allward.
Weeks says the team has worked hard to create a positive environment for the players but is still reminded how football isn’t inclusive for women.
“Our jerseys are not made for us. Our shoulder pads are not made for us. Our pants are definitely not made for us,” said Brittni Adams, another player on the team.
The exclusion women’s football teams face goes beyond the uniform.
Weeks said people often ask if she's a part of a lingerie or flag football team.
"We have to explain to them that we play just like the men do. We hit, we run, we throw the ball, we catch the ball," she said.
The Capital City Savages compete in the Women’s Football Alliance, which bills itself as the largest and most competitive women’s tackle football league in the world. The number of women’s football teams across the country has grown over the past years, something Adams hopes inspires young girls interested in male-dominated sports.
“We grew up feeling weird," said Adams. "I don’t want little girls to feel weird because they want to play sports. They should be able to play sports and not feel like they should be outcast."
Weeks says the Capital City Savages want to empower girls across mid-Michigan to create spaces for themselves in sports that have historically shut them out.
“For my daughter, she can see me doing this and she can be like me," said Weeks. "By the time she’s old enough to start playing football, it will be more socially acceptable. There will be more opportunities and she will be more accepted in the sport and it feels great for me knowing that.”
Find out more about the Capital City Savages on their Facebook page.
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