WAFL releases its schedule for 2014 campaign

As spring arrives, it also signals the beginning of female football. Heading into its second season, the Women’s Arena Football League (WAFL) has released its 2014 schedule. With four teams slated for each conference, the Texas based teams shall be placed in the National Conference; while Florida based teams are part of the American Conference.

Opening week features National Conference teams on May 3, 2014. The Dallas Darlings play host to San Antonio while the Houston Lady Oilers open their season at home with a tilt against the New Orleans Bayou Queens. The Atlanta Archers, the lone Georgia-based team in the American Conference hosts Jacksonville in its May 10 home opener. Orlando shall host Tampa in the only other game that weekend.

Of note, every odd numbered week on the WAFL schedule (e.g. Week 1, Week 3) shall see National Conference teams participate, while even numbered weeks (e.g. Week 2, Week 4) will consist of American Conference play.

Week 3 sees New Orleans and San Antonio host games in National Conference play. Dallas will make the trek to the Big Easy while the Lady Oilers hope to earn the road win in San Antonio. Jacksonville and Tampa get to host games during Week 4.
Orlando shall visit Jacksonville while the Archers make the trip to Tampa in hopes of a 2-0 start.

The month of May ends with two contests on May 31. Houston and Dallas renew rivalries for the first time this season with Dallas hoping to take advantage of the home field advantage. San Antonio hosts New Orleans as they make they engage in their second straight road game of the season. Weeks 6 through 9 take place in the month of June as the postseason picture should become clearer by month’s end.

A bye-week takes place during the first week of July in order for players to celebrate the Fourth of July. Of note, the month of July sees two American Conference matchups, while only one week of National Conference play shall take place.

July 19 marks the final regular season games for American Conference teams as Dallas hosts Houston, while San Antonio hosts New Orleans for its third home date of the year. The final week takes place on July 26 with Orlando going on the road to battle with Atlanta. Meanwhile, Jacksonville hosts Tampa in what may be a pivotal game to determine postseason seeding.

Only the top two teams in each conference will earn postseason berths. Each first place team shall host playoff dates on August 2, while the Diva Bowl championship game takes place on August 16, 2014. The venue is yet to be determined for the title game.


Seattle Mist holds potential to set higher standards for quality indoor female football

Although the last few months have been difficult for indoor female football, the Seattle Mist continue to serve as a shining beacon. Despite the controversy surrounding Nikki Johnson no longer being a member of the Las Vegas Sin and the collapse of the ill-fated Women’s Indoor Football League, the Mist have solidified Seattle’s standing as one of the great football cities in America.

Similar to the NFL’s Seahawks, the Mist have a remarkable loyal fan base and acknowledge it every chance they have. The last year has brought several milestones for the proud franchise. From an undefeated regular season in 2013 to the powerful performance of Stevi Schnoor in their second consecutive Pacific Cup victory, the future holds great promise for even better performances.

Image obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/SeattleMist
Image obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/SeattleMist

Currently, the league they belong to is enduring a degree of turbulence. From issues including compensation, turnover and two franchises not competing this season, the Mist remain a figure of stability amidst difficult times. Should the league fold or cease operations in 2015, it may be worthwhile for the Mist to consider a change. As one of the most popular female football franchises (indoor or outdoor) in the United States, the Mist could help set a new standard, while helping the sport maintain its growth.

The concept of the Mist helping to form a new player-owned league would not only bring innovation to the sport, but help the franchise and the players have better control of the game. Of note, the National Lacrosse League is a player-owned enterprise and has existed since the 1990s.

With the popularity of indoor female football in many areas of the Pacific and Southwest United States (along with several areas in Western Canada), a player-run league could definitely have legs. Each team could have a player representative to assist with administrative issues such as by-laws, schedules, financial management and obtaining health insurance.

In addition, such a league could borrow from other female football leagues in having rotation at the executive levels. The Maritime Women’s Football League in Atlantic Canada holds annual elections for its executive positions. Of note, those positions are held by the players themselves.

Although the focus for the Mist is to emulate the Seahawks and field a team that can win its respective league championship, a player-owned league is merely food for thought. Such a strong organization deserves to continue to thrive in another environment, should the current one no longer be sustainable. Its loyal fan base would certainly appreciate it.

Montreal Blitz players show their support for fellow female sporting heroes

As the city of Montreal undergoes a female sporting renaissance, the Motnreal Blitz showed support for their hockey sisters, the Montreal Stars. A handful of Blitz players were in attendance for the Stars contest against the Boston Blades, which was also the franchise’s annual fundraiser for breast cancer research.

During the first period of the contest, the Stars were adorned in pink Bauer jerseys that were auctioned off afterwards. Approximately 70 percent of the proceeds went to the Wellness Initiative of the Cedar’s Breast Cancer Clinic at the McGill University Health Centre.

Blitz players smiling In the stands for the Montreal Stars fund raiser for breast cancer (Image obtained from Facebook)
Blitz players smiling In the stands for the Montreal Stars fund raiser for breast cancer (Image obtained from Facebook)

The Blitz players in attendance were part of a sold-out crowd that raised an astounding $12,000. Although the Blitz players were not recognized during the contest, there is no question that the two franchises should learn to develop a stronger association.

As players from both the Blitz and the Stars have played for their respective national teams, cross-promotion may be a unique way to help both teams grow. Although both clubs rely on a dedicated group of volunteers, there is no question that both can learn from each others’ methods and possibly find ways to improve.

Certainly, the common factor between them is their ability to provide a superior sporting product. The Stars have earned three Clarkson Cup championships, while the Blitz have enjoyed championships at the Tier I and Tier II level of the IWFL. Both are definitely model franchises in their respective leagues.

While the Stars are starting to gain footing in the Montreal sports scene, the Blitz can look to them as a sign that their day will come too. Although the Blitz have existed longer than the Stars, the concept of female football is still one that is taking time to accept. Female football today is where women’s hockey was in 1990, when the first IIHF Women’s World Championships were held.

Both the Blitz and the Stars have emerged as not just successful sports franchises but model citizens and inspiring individuals. Athletes such as Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux (Stars) and Saadia Ashraf (Blitz) are not just wondrous women, but key builders for modern female sport in Montreal.