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To mark International Women’s Day, we celebrate the past and future of British American Football women’s contact game. 

The South Coast Sharkettes celebrate their victory

November 1986 was the month that the first ever women’s contact game took place – an all-south coast contest in Bognor Regis played between the South Coast Sharkettes and Eastbourne Crusaders. The records show that it was an eleven a side contest full of dynamic plays and fierce hits. The Sharkettes ultimately came out on top, taking the win with a 30-12 scoreline.

With the curtain set to raise on the new BAFA NWFL season next month, it is timely to recognise how far the women’s game has come. This year, teams will enter the field playing a nine a-side format. This is another step forward for the Women’s game which started as a five-a-side competition before moving to seven-a-side games.

Recently the main catalyst for increased participation in the Women’s competition has been the incredible success of the National Team. Last year they took part in the World Championships in Finland and after dispatching Canada in the semi-final, they led the USA before succumbing to the vastly more experienced Americans in the gold medal game. World Silver Medallists is a fine achievement!

Warriors and Lions face-off in Britbowl last year

Next up for the national side are two qualifying games for the IFAF European Championships. On April 15th they will host Sweden at Sixways Stadium in Worcester, then in May they will travel to take on Germany.

With more and more Women holding key roles both globally and nationally in the American Football World, the visibility for the Women’s game has never been higher.

Words: Dave Tidswell
Image (Warriors v Lions): Jody Davies Sports Photography