Footballs wanted: Western women's football team only has 6

Western University's women's football team is down to a handful of ratty flags, a set of 15 cones and a sad-looking bag with six practice balls. Now, they're trying to raise money to purchase new equipment.

The team is looking to update their equipment for the first time since they formed in 2011

The women's football team at Western University plays three tournaments between January and March. (Western Women's Football Team/Facebook)

There's a big machine behind the winning football team at Western University. The men's team, that is.

So what's behind the women's 50-member football team? A handful of ratty flags, a set of 15 cones and a sad-looking bag with six practice balls.

"And I'm not exaggerating. It's just six," said quarterback Olivia Ghosh-Swaby.

"And we were lucky enough to take on a few more balls because one of the guys saw us practicing out on the field, he's a kicking coach and he's like, 'Hey we have some junior footballs that you guys are welcome to have,' and we're like, 'yes, we'll take them!'"

The women's football program has been underway for eight years, but it has no funding from the university. 

"I'm frustrated. Oh man, it's frustrating," said Ghosh-Swaby.

Quarterback Olivia Ghosh-Swaby is frustrated the women's team is not supported financially by the university. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

The team was born from the highly popular residence football league in 2011, which is when the team purchased its equipment.

According Ghosh-Swaby, that's the extent of the equipment they have today.

"Unfortunately, we are self-run, self-funded and we do everything on our own."

In fact, they set up a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise $800.

Women's team not varsity

The problem, said Ghosh-Swaby on London Morning, is that the team isn't formally recognized by Western University. Last year, the team scored a couple of sponsors, which has helped.

"We do our best to really have the girls pay out of pocket for their season, and then wherever the sponsors can help decrease that financial burden is where we get going."

The women's football program is a hybrid of tackle and flag football, and players compete against 13 other universities and colleges in three tournaments from January to March. The sport is not recognized by any school as a varsity sport.

"That's our goal. We're really trying to shoot there one day to have football for women really be recognized at a higher level within university programs."

It's all about status, said Ghosh-Swaby. 

"So in order to move that one step up, we need ratification or recognition at the school level, then we could start exploring further options maybe at the OUA (Ontario University Athletics) level or some other governing body and then nationally. Those are big goals and a lot of red tape to get through, but we're working as much as we can."

The women's football team at Western University is dealing with a severe shortage of equipment. The team's captain and quarterback Olivia Ghosh-Swaby tells London Morning what they're doing to raise money for more equipment. 7:42


About the Author

Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 15 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna.