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The Airdrie all-girls tackle football team makes its debut

“We’re Airdrie’s premier tackle football team, so it’s nice to be part of the story and watch the girls pave the way for someone else to follow next year.”

Airdrie sports history was made on May 15 when the Airdrie Raiders all-girl tackle football team took to the field for their opening game.

While the final score didn’t end in favor of the Raiders, who lost 58-32 to the Calgary Wildcats at Shouldice Athletic Park, head coach Chris Glass said it was great for the U17 girls’ team to compete against another team in a match-up, after practicing together for a few weeks.

“It was the first ever [all-girls tackle football game] in Calgary history, and we were the first team in our division to play,” said Glass, who coaches the team alongside Gina Horwood, Parkey Ney and Trent Ney. “We’re Airdrie’s premier tackle football team, so it’s nice to be part of the story and watch the girls pave the way for someone else to follow next year.”

The new Calgary-based league was announced earlier this year after being approved by Football Alberta and the Calgary Bantam Football Association. The four-team league includes teams from Airdrie, Calgary, Lacombe and Wetaskiwin and is aimed at high school-age female athletes. Teams play a seven-on-seven format of tackle football in Shouldice on Sundays.

Glass said the Airdrie players put a lot of energy into the opening snaps.

“They didn’t have the nerve I expected,” he said, noting that Airdrie’s players had thrown and run well. “They were quite ready to go. Once we got through the first couple of games and started to see success, it was great to see the reaction and how excited they were to actually play someone else.”

Although the Raiders’ roster includes some girls who have previously played co-ed tackle football at the bantam and peewee levels, Glass said it’s a great way to encourage girls to create an all-girls team for local athletes to have those interested in football the sport in their teenage years.

“It’s exciting to see a version of this sport that’s tailored for them,” he said.

A huge cheer erupted early in Sunday’s game after Raiders quarterback Grace and receiver Zoey teamed up to complete the first pass in the fledgling league’s history.

“I thought it was quite historic [and] Zoey ended up having a great game,” Glass said.

The Airdrie team will take a break over the long May weekend before returning to the gridiron on May 29th.

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