Can A Girl Play Football?
Football is a sport primarily played by boys and men, and many fans will have never seen a girl on the football field. Why is this? Is it against the rules? Can a girl play football? Read below to learn all about the eligibility of female football players and a brief history of women in the sport.
Can Girls Play Football?
Yes, any girl can play football! There are no rules (in any form of American football) that prevent girls from playing football. However, it is less common for girls to play football, mainly due to the physical requirements of the sport. Countless women have played football at the high school or youth level. There are also female-only minor football leagues, such as the United States Women’s Football League (USWFL).
History of Women in American Football
For a long time, women did not participate in American football other than as a fan. Though there were technically no rules against women playing in most football leagues, it was uncommon for a woman to be invited to play. Also, the aggressive nature of the sport and the common requirement of massive physical size and strength has long provided a barrier for most women from playing football, especially at more competitive collegiate and professional levels.
In the early 2000s, women’s football players became much more common with the founding of several women’s football leagues. This began in 2000 when the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL) was formed. Though it started small, the IWFL expanded over the years to a massive 51 teams, before playing its last season in 2018. In 2009, both the United States Women’s Football League (USWFL) and the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) were founded, both of which have helped inspire a spike in the popularity of women’s football throughout the US.
Though women play all positions in women’s football leagues, female football players in male-dominated leagues often serve a very specific purpose. In such non-women-exclusive leagues, the vast majority of female football players are kickers on the special teams unit. The most common reason for this occurrence is that placekicker is a position where size is not important. In fact, many female kickers have a lot of soccer experience, which is why former soccer players especially excel in these roles.
Female Football Scholarship
Since it has been so rare for women to even play in most competitive football leagues, it has been even rarer for women to get athletic scholarships for the sport. In 2018, Rebecca “Becca” Longo made history as one of the first female players to be awarded a scholarship for football. For the 2018-2019 season, she was awarded a partial scholarship for football at Adams State University in Colorado. She was a very capable kicker, regularly making field goals from over 40 yards. Though not many have followed in her wake, Longo is renowned for setting a landmark precedent for women in her sport.
United States Women’s Football League
The United States Women’s Football League (USWFL) is a minor league for women’s full-tackle football. The USWFL had its first season in 2011 after exhibition play in 2010. Over ten years later, the league has gone through ups and downs, but six teams remain, spread throughout the eastern and midwestern US.
Women’s Football Alliance
The Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) is a professional women’s full-tackle football league. Founded in 2009, the league has expanded to its current size of 64 teams. It is the largest women’s gridiron football league in the world and the longest-running league in the US. The WFA pays its players on a rewards model based on performance, and games are televised on ESPN3, Eleven Sports, Root Sports, and Comcast. The WFA features competition at three levels: Pro, Division 2, and Division 3.
IFAF World Championship of American Football
The IFAF World Championship of American Football is the international championship competition for women’s tackle football. (A flag football competition is also held.) Staged every four years, the World Championship is regulated by the International Federation of American Football. The most recent competition, in 2022, featured teams from 10 countries. USA Football sponsors the US Women’s National Team, which represents the US in the IFAF World Championship.
Can women play football?
Yes, women can play football. In fact, there are several women-only American football leagues that were first started in the 2000s that are still flourishing today. There are also technically no rules against women playing football either at the collegiate or professional levels. Because of the physical requirements and culture of the sport, though, it is still very uncommon for a woman to play in male-dominated leagues.
Can girls play in the NFL?
According to the rules, women can play any position in the NFL. However, as of 2022, no women have ever been signed by an NFL team. Their increased presence as kickers on college teams suggests that, in the future, women may soon play in the NFL, most likely on special teams.