It’s a first for Regina Minor Football. The first girls tackle league season in Saskatchewan is underway, and the Regina Victorias are about to make their debut.
The team will open their four-game season Sunday night in Yorkton at 5 p.m. at the Yorkton Regional High School.
Head coach of the Victorias, Ryan Hall, said there is a women’s league in the province, but this girls league opens up the sport for those aged 12 to 17.
“For this season, our hope is that the girls all have a good time playing the game and enjoying the game, making some friends, just having a positive experience like we’d want any player to have,” Hall said.
The other hope is for the league to grow throughout the province.
“Hopefully it grows and we have more communities and more teams within Regina that are playing as well,” he continued.
While there isn’t time for girls to join the league this year, Hall is hopeful that there will be more girls who will want to play next year.
This season is short with it lasting only about a month and a half, coming to a conclusion at the end of September.
“The first time around we wanted to make sure we didn’t make it too much of a grind where maybe the parents or girls got sick of it, it’s always better if they want more rather than less,” Hall said of the short season.
“We thought we’d start with the four games, that’s enough to make it a worthwhile season, but it’s not too long to be a huge long commitment because a lot of the girls do other sports, so we were keeping that in mind.”
Hall said the hope is to maybe expand the program to six games next season, depending on interest in the league.
The Regina Victorias have so far spent a lot of time learning the game and developing skills.
“They’re starting to get more confident as they learn and they’re starting to feel a little more comfortable so hopefully that will translate when we play (Yorkton),” Hall said.
When it comes to amateur football, Hall said Saskatchewan is really a benchmark.
“Everything that we do to develop the game and develop players, if other provinces are smart, they try and do what we do and then football grows. In Saskatchewan we’re really intent and strategic in trying to make football grow,” he said.
According to Hall, when football is viewed as a male sport that shuts out half of the population.
“So if we can say ‘no it’s not a male sport we’ve got opportunities for females as well’ then that just opens up huge possibilities for girls.”
The great thing about Saskatchewan is once these girls are done in the league they can move on to the women’s league.
“The Regina Riot and Saskatoon Valkyries are by far the top women’s programs in Canada,” Hall said.
Even when girls are seniors in high school, they can still try out for the women’s league.
“After that there’s opportunities, like provincial teams, because they do have a national championship for women’s football, so they can aspire to that,” Hall continued.
There’s also a world championship for women’s football.
A few coaches for the Regina Victorias are former national team members who went to Finland a few years ago for a world championship tournament.
“There are some really great opportunities for the girls and because they’re getting in at the ground floor now when women’s football is just starting to emerge, they’re going to have a big advantage to take advantage of those opportunities,” Hall said.
If anyone is interested in the program, they can contact the minor football league in their area.