In 2013 Lauren Silberman became the first woman in history to try out for the NFL. While she didn’t make the team, the attempt was a significant and inspiring statement to women and girls who dream about playing a sport that has been almost exclusively for men. But the dream doesn’t have to be limited to the NFL, today women are playing competitive football with the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), the largest women’s tackle football league in the world.
Founded in 2007, the WFA, which is a non-profit organization, includes 45 teams, divided into two conferences and four divisions, similar to the NFL. They play eight games per season, followed by playoffs and a national championship.
“The passion of these athletes shows on and off the field, as they face gender discrimination, playing the sport they love and becoming role models for young women everywhere,” says Lisa King, WFA co-founder and director of operations.
Because the league hasn’t been able to gain a significant fan following, players do not get paid. In fact, teams and team members have to pay to participate. Most, if not all of the women, have full-time jobs and careers. “It’s a battle the women are willing to take on if it means generations of women in the future can aspire to be pro football players,” Lisa explains. “When players no longer have to pay to play football, we will have tackled our final barrier and accomplished our vision.”
Of the many teams, the D.C. Divas are one of the most well-known and successful franchises the league. They rank first among all WFA teams in victories, seasons played, games played, playoff appearances, and division championships. The Divas have a 110-35 record in 15 seasons of play and have played in three national championship games, claiming two national titles after undefeated seasons in 2006 and 2015.
In the video from Upworthy above, we get a chance to see the D.C. Divas in action and are introduced to wide receiver Callie Brownson, who explains why she and her teammates stay committed to the game, in spite of the challenges they face. “If you remember being a kid and looking up to somebody doing something that you wanted to do, if they were a positive role model and they made it seem like that dream was possible, you wanted to do it. And that’s what we have to continue to do. We have to continue to fight the good fight.”
Learn more about the WFA, teams and players here.