Women prepare for world tackle football

Canada's first national women's tackle football team will include a strong contingent from New Brunswick.

Canada's first national women's tackle football team will include a strong contingent from New Brunswick.

Eighteen women from the province have made Team Canada, 14 of them from the Saint John area.

The 45-member team will make sports history this summer, competing in the inaugural IFAF Women's World Championship, being held in Stockholm.

Lisa Harlow, of Saint John, who has played in the Maritime Football League for six years, said she feels as though she's experiencing an Olympic moment, with six countries slated to compete.

She hopes the opportunity will encourage more women to get involved in the sport.

"It's great for the young girls as they play football throughout their career to understand that there's endless opportunities beyond just playing in a recreational league."

Tough competition

Lisa Rogers, of Saint John, who has experience in both regional touch and tackle football, expects to see some high calibre play.

"We know our girls in the Maritime league and we know the skill level, but it's going to be interesting to see the skill level in North America and the world," she said. "It'll be interesting.… Looking forward to it."

Melissa Daley, also of Saint John, expects it will be gruelling. The players will need to be at their best physically and mentally, she said.

"We have to work off each other. We have to know what everyone is doing, we have to know where everyone is at, we have to know each play."

A final training camp for the Canadian team is planned for Saint John in June.

The games begin on June 27, when Canada takes on the host Swedish team.

Team Canada is ranked second heading into the tournament, which runs until July 3.

Head coach Larry Harlow has said he expects the team to play in the top four.

Harlow, who currently coaches the Saint John Storm, transformed that team from last place finishers into the Maritime champions.

He is also the co-founder of the New Brunswick Women's Football League, the New Brunswick Junior Girls Football League and the Maritime Women's Football League.

The other teams competing in the world games are representing the U.S., Germany, Austria, and Finland.