Football has always been known as a “man’s game” but five local girls are changing that stereotype.
Payge Satek, Ariana Church, Alese Sartain, Cassie Christians and Sera Barker-House have decided to break the barrier and take on the boys. These five girls play for the Bonnyville Bandits bantam football team.
“Coaching them is not hard, they’re quiet, they hang together real well and the spirit around them is excellent. They aren’t very vocal but they excel,” said Bandits head coach Mickey Fagnan.
The team, which is made up of teenagers, are very accepting of the girls, which makes it a lot easier for the quintet.
“We don’t allow any bullying or taunting or cat calling, it’s just not allowed here. We play hard ball here when it comes to the gender differences, but we have a great attitude here,” said Fagnan. “We haven’t had any issues at all, in terms of punishment or reprimanding, I don’t need to do that, they’re very well behaved and the girls provide a different angle and so they should.”
The girls give a strategic advantage in this contact sport.
“Most people aren’t sure what to do, you know, when it comes to football. They want to play the game and they have to be able to take the hits and it’s good to see that when we put those girls in, they like it. They don’t mind pounding or getting the pounding.”
Satek and Chritians are both second-year players and have some experience already in this sport.
“It’s different that’s for sure, but its really fun though. It’s really fun but it’s kind of intimidating too,” said Satek about going head to head with the boys.
“I play on the line so I get to do most of the heavy hitting on the team,” said Christians. “I haven’t really fit into other sports like dance and gymnastics and that kind of stuff. I’ve wanted to play for a long time so once spring season started up I just came and signed up and I’ve loved it so I have stuck with it.”
For first-year player Ariana Church, football was something she has grown up with.
“I’ve known football since I was little. My family has been a football family; my dad played football, my brother plays football, so I decided I am not really into baseball or hockey or anything like that, so I decided to go into football.”
“I like tackling, its fun being able to hit people,” Church added. “It’s definitely a challenge, a lot of them are a lot bigger than I am and it’s painful for us.”
Baker-House has been playing football for three seasons now.
“I really like the games, they’re really exciting and you’re always on the edge of your seat most of the time.” She added, “guys and girls don’t really compare physically so it was hard at first but you get used to it after a while.”
Sartain is the veteran out of the five. Having played for four seasons, she said there is one thing that will never get old.