What would you do if someone stopped you in the grocery store and asked you to try football? You may think that being female, having no knowledge of football or not being particularly athletic may exclude you from this kind of conversation. This couldn't be further from the truth. People like Liston Bates, program co-ordinator of the Mississauga Indoor Football Association (MIFA) and Melissa Stolaaz, Director of MIFA ALLSTARS Ontario, along with their players have recruited many girls and women just like you to football.
Football is an inclusive and diverse sport. We heard that whether its flag, flag-contact or tackle, everyone has a place on a team and in this sport. Organizations like MIFA are breaking down barriers to football trial by offering free equipment, professional training and a supportive community of players to help women and girls get comfortable, build skills and a love for the sport.
"This was a long time project that finally made its way to reality and it was amazing to see how many young athletes it impacted, right here in our home area Toronto. Working with the Argos, MIFA was able to bring the sport to the next level, having athletes train on BMO field and showcasing all facets of football from all over Ontario on the speaker panel that day. What an amazing start to a bigger journey," says Melissa Stolarz.
MIFA ALLSTARS Ontario is the first and only tackle football team that was developed for women in Ontario. The team represents Ontario, Canada both provincially and internationally and is changing the game of football for women at home and abroad. See the impact that MIFA ALLSTARS Ontario is making on the local and greater community.
A few weeks ago, the Toronto Argonauts teamed up with MIFA to host a full-day Women's Football Showcase for girls and women to participate, be inspired, and create unforgettable memories. The goal of this super fun community event was to build a love of football at the community level and nurture fan loyalty for the Toronto Argonauts.
"Women don't typically come to sporting events alone. They bring family, friends and many more," says John Murphy VP Player Personnel, Toronto Argonauts. "Building a love of football at the grassroots level with one woman, means we are building a community of sports lovers."
Mark Wittman, Account Executive at MLSE was the brainchild behind this initiative which ran a few weeks before the conclusion of the 2019 season. He's building fan engagement for the Toronto Argonauts with game-day grassroots events like the Women's Football Showcase supported by MIFA and the Armwrestling Championships hosted by Arm Fight Club.
75 women football athletes from three GTA high schools took to the BMO Field in a football clinic led by some of Ontario's top female football players and coaches as part of the Toronto Argonauts' Women's Football Showcase day supported by MIFA. Training was followed by an inspiring athlete panel discussion and the day was wrapped up by an Argo's game.
The clinic was designed by Liston Bates and led by MIFA ALLSTARS Ontario players Lindi Spilchen (running back) and Amanda Flint (team captain, pioneer player and player of every position). It was the perfect day for a football clinic. Under bright blue skies on a beautifully kept BMO field turf, warm-up and drills were led with energy, words of encouragement and insight. The women were all smiles...very sweaty ones!
"It was amazing to see MIFA ALLSTARS Ontario athletes leading the drills. This program has come so far; at the very beginning, Head Coach took his personal time to train and teach the sport and then invested personal resources to fund equipment. It’s an amazing story and journey to follow," says Melissa Stolarz.
“We like how all the girls at our school are into football. It makes us feel empowered. We’re excited to learn more stuff today,” said Sara and Gigi from Banting Memorial High School.
Nina Monticciolo - MIFA Flag Youth Co-ed Football
"Flag has helped me with leadership, listening and working with other people."
"Football is super diverse and inclusive. Everyone has a place on the team. It's a sport where everyone can fit in, different shapes and sizes. Anyone can do it from high school kids to moms who want to up their fitness level."
We were thrilled to introduce SeeWhatSheCanDo to MIFA ALLSTARS and the girls and women who participated in the Women's Football Showcase. We created SeeWhatSheCanDo exactly for this reason. We're a place where women are lifted up, celebrated, and find resources that help each of us embrace who we are and what we can do.
Cassandra Zaika - Uof Waterloo Warriors Football. Contact-Flag (DL/OL)
"We're here to support our fellow women, creating an atmosphere of family and athletes."
Julia Van - U of Toronto Flag Football Team Coach
"There are many strong women in a leadership position at the University of Toronto who are committed to developing players."
Leslie Swan - MIFA ALLSTARS Canada
"When you commit to the MIFA's program you get free gear to try out the sport."
Nilufer Hoque - MIFA ALLSTARS Ontario (WR)
"Full tackle was a little scary at first but MIFA helped me through it."
A day of football inspiration was wrapped up with a Toronto Argonauts football game vs. the Ottawa REDBLACKS. MIFA ALLSTARS welcomed the Toronto Argonauts back onto the field after halftime as they were all cheered on by fans.
The life lessons that players learn when playing football are priceless. During our day with this awesome collection of players, coaches and sports leaders here are some of the training tips we heard that extend beyond the field:
SeeWhatSheCanDo is working with organizations like MLSE’s Toronto Argonauts and MIFA to cover events like the Women's Football Showcase. We’re helping women access resources to get active and be role models for the next generation of leaders.
If you share a passion for gender equality, sports and breaking down barriers, consider partnering with us and investing in healthier communities. Let's talk.
Find the Mississauga Indoor Football Association (MIFA) and the Toronto Argonauts Football Club in our Athlete Advisor, your online athletic business directory. Find, rate and review football programs, local community offerings and businesses that will help you do your thing.
Look for advice, stories, news and more on our Football activity pages.
Share your own football stories directly on our Discover blog or by using #seewhatshecando on social media and inspire others to get active.
Written by Tina Finelli.
Tina is a Canadian-bred storyteller and Co-Founder of SeeWhatSheCanDo. Lover of all things outdoors, Tina's happy place is surrounded by forest, water and mountains. In moments when she isn't moving outdoors, CrossFitting or playing hockey, you'll find her watching her daughters on the dance floor or playing hockey, reading a book, or cooking up a storm.
Caroline is the Founder of SeeWhatSheCanDo. Her world has always revolved around sport. Caroline's passion is moving, doing and photographing the active moments all around her. When she’s not making plays on the ice or actively exploring the world with her family, she can be found researching her genealogical history and immersing herself in all things Cornish.
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