Megan Jalbert: WWCFL
SASKATCHEWAN — Even though it was her first official year on a football team, Megan Jalbert – a member of the Western Women’s Canadian Football League’s (WWCFL) Regina Riot – says that she’s hooked on the sport and feels that the league will only keep growing.
“In October (2011) I went to a camp and fell in love with it. In February the team held another camp and I went, trying it out. The league held these to see what kind of interest there was. They wanted to see who could play and what position.”
Jalbert, who says she has always had a lingering desire to play football was added to the 41 player roaster of the newly formed Regina Riot. As a wide-receiver she never really pursued her passion because she felt that as she finished high-school (the time she really began to think about football) that she would be too old to begin playing. Learning that the league was open to all players of all levels, gave her the courage she needed to step on the field.
“Not everyone in the camp tried it and liked it. Some girls who played this past year that have never played a sport before. I was always a huge fan of football as it is such a unique sport because there is a position for everybody and player. Most players on the team started essentially from scratch.”
With the success of its inaugural season in 2011, the WWCFL became the first all women’s inter provincial tackle football league in Western Canada. With seven teams in two divisions the league provides a venue for female football lovers all over.
Playing her first season in 2011, the wide-receiver and avid Saskatchewan Rough Riders fan says she missed a couple games and a lot of practices due to a torn ACL injury sustained last season.
While she is currently recovering, Jalbert says she will be ready to play again when the season begins in May.
“The recovery hasn’t been too bad, I am a little impatient trying to push myself but I am paying the price.”
As Jalbert pines to get back on the field, the team has been busy putting together its roaster for next spring.
“We had another camp this past October and a lot of girls came out. It’s a good way to get an idea of who is dedicated to playing. We opened it up to younger girls because the league is only 18 plus. Girls that were 12 years old came out and it was good to get a sense of the interest.”
And interest there has been, as the league gains traction, the WWCFL is beginning to see a dedicated group of followers.
“We had 600 people for first game,” said Jalbert who mentioned that it was difficult for fans to distinguish between the WWCFL and the newly created Lingerie football League where the Regina team bares a similar name.
“They are two separate and very different games. We respect their game. We’ve been here one year longer. In 2012 they announced the Regina Rage and we’re the Regina Riot – automatically people jump to lingerie – but no we are the ones who play with clothes. People are starting to know the difference. Sometimes it’s good for us because it’s free publicity.”
Even though the fan base declined a bit–due to the fact that for many girls it was their first year, not making it the most exciting to watch — Jalbert says it’s growing, getting more competitive and becoming more entertaining.
“We do have a lot of athletes on team and there’s a lot of skill there, attracting more elite athletes so it’s only going grow.”
And with more seasoned athletes joining the ranks, Jalbert says the level of play is getting more fierce.
“Saskatoon is our biggest competition. They’ve been undefeated for two seasons. They are well equipped with players and coaches. A lot of the coaches are ex University of Saskatchewan coaches. They have a lot of ex university athletes, basketball player,s hockey players, etc.”
“But it’ll change this year,” assures Jalbert who is eager to get back on the field.
And although the wide receiver can’t wait to match up against her toughest rivals, she (like many of her teammates who are in school) is keeping busy during the off-season completing a program in sport and recreation management.
“I am hoping to eventually do something in sport and recreation realm. I don’t know where I will be but I want to stay involved. I hope to play football as long as my body will hold up.”
Jalbert has also begun — with my teammate Erin Banbury – developing a program to help younger women get involved in football.
“We hope to have it implemented by 2014. We have been talking with girls to help make it a successful program. It’s really neat have the 12-year-olds come out. You can see the fire in their eyes. The main thing we want with program is for it to be a self-esteem booster. Before I played I was quiet and never open to meeting new people. We want to give girls between ages of 12 and 17 the opportunity to do something different and try something they may be interested in.”
The program would help to establish a younger all-girls league to encourage participation from upcoming players.
While Jalbert remains focused on all-things football, she says its interesting to see the shift that is going on regarding women in sports.
“I went to a presentation this fall. There was an American documentary on representation of women in sports, and it made me think about all the changes going on. Things are changing and society is starting to recognize more and more that women are amazing athletes. I certainly think it’s changing slowly, but it’s definitely changing.”
Article by Sheila Bowes
For more information go to: http://www.wwcfl.com/