Although football has traditionally been a male-dominant sport, female leagues are starting to develop around the globe, including in southeastern Saskatchewan.
The Estevan U18 Viragos are now into their second year competing in the Prairie Girls Football League. Head coach Mark Tribiger said that while there has been some growing pains, his team is starting to show signs of real progress as they play in the 3-game spring portion of their season.
"We've seen a lot of improvement from the first game even. We're not quite happy with the outcome, but with the team being so young, we're happy to see some progress," said Tribiger.
He said the players have been enjoying the experience so far.
"The ones that are there are seeming to really like it," he said. "Even the new incoming players...we have a handful of girls that are actually in grade 6 and they've been thrown into the mix there right away and they're looking good. We have some good future prospects that's for sure."
Right now the Viragos roster has 20 girls on it and Tribiger hopes to grow that to 30-35 players in the coming years through recruiting, both in Estevan and around the southeast corner of the province.
"If there's anybody that's even thinking about it, sitting on the fence, whether they want to play or not, come on out and watch the game and see what it's about," he said. "With it being a full female league, it's not quite as intimidating as when you see the guys playing."
Tribiger used to coach boys football and said there's been a few major differences he's had to adjust to with his female players, but that the playbook and play calling are exactly the same, with the exception of punting.
"Our punter, she can hit 40-45 yards easy but we don't punt very often because what we've found in the past, just because our defence is a little bit weaker, is they're basically returning it to the same spot we're kicking from, so for us there's no point, we'd rather get the reps, especially in the spring season."
Tribiger is excited for the future potential of his offence, with a quarterback that can throw the ball as far as 45 yards down the field.
"We're running a little bit different of an offence than anyone else in the league. And once we get it to start clicking it's going to be strong and we're going to take some teams by surprise with it," Tribiger said.
The Prairie Girls Football League plays with Canadian rules and nine players on each side of the ball. There are teams in Estevan, Melville, Yorkton, Moosomin, and Regina.
Tribiger said the female side of the sport is really taking off in the United States.
"There's actually 52 teams in the States. There's three leagues with 52 teams. They're actually talking that within the next probably five years that they're actually going to be paying their players to play. It's going to be a full pro league," he said.
He added that they're looking into the possibility of putting an all star team together from Saskatchewan to go down to Utah to play to help grow the female game in Canada.
The Viragos will complete their spring season this Sunday against Moosomin at Chow Field. Kickoff is 4 p.m.