The Western Women Canadian Football League (WWCFL) has 7 teams in 2 Conferences:
- Prairie Conference - (Saskatoon Valkyrie, Regina Riot, Winnipeg Wolfpack and the Manitoba Fearless)
- Western Conference- (Calgary Rage, Edmonton Storm and the Lethbridge Steel)
Strathmore's own Erin Walton who plays quarterback and Angelina Palardy who plays on both sides of the ball can play in either the linebacker or running back position will meet the Manitoba Fearless on Saturday in a semi-final playoff game at Shouldice Park in Calgary. While the Edmonton Storm will play the Saskatoon Valkyries on Sunday.
To catch the game between Manitoba and the Calgary Rage, they will be playing at Shouldice Park on Hellard field at 2:00 PM this Saturday with $5 admission.
Walton has been playing for the Calgary Rage for 12 years and shares what her experience so far has been like.
“It's fun, number one. It's exhilarating and it can cause anxiety at times depending on how seriously you take it, but for the most part, it is one of the most fun things I've ever done. It's hard to explain, I always think it's like high-speed chess. I think there's a lot of underlying life lessons and messages that the game of football teaches us just by being part of a team.”
There are some challenges each team faces during the season, travel and costs being one of them noted Walton,
“It's really, really expensive for us to travel to Manitoba and for Manitoba to travel here particularly. So it has just limited some of the growth of the league and Covid did us no favours. When they created this schedule, the opportunity is for every team in each conference to play each other at least once to twice, and then we host a crossover playoff. We ended up number one in our conference. So the Manitoba Fearless will travel to us this weekend to play in what they call the crossover playoff.”
Gearing up for the playoffs is a lot of work for the team especially over the past week with so much rain they struggled to find an indoor space to train in, with that Walton said that has not slowed them down and they are ready.
"We have a really great dedicated coaching staff, they prepare video for us and update our playbooks like sometimes daily. Our playbooks are updated and it's our responsibility as athletes to get into those platforms and study."
With all of that preparation the players on the Rage have been able to watch a couple of games the Fearless played in to make sure there are as prepared as they can be heading into Saturday's game, "It's one and your done," said Walton.
Walton also states that due to the nature of the WWCFL, she has never played with the same people on the same team twice.
“You gotta roll with whoever shows up, and that's one of the things that makes it incredibly frustrating sometimes, but incredibly rewarding when it comes together in the right way.”
Seeing the interactions and growth of the women on the Calgary Rage has been incredibly rewarding for Walton. She explains that there's a wide range of people in the league, with people as young as 16 just starting out, to women in their 40's & 50's wanting to try something completely new.
“So many of us have had athletic endeavours previous to football. All of those skills make women football players some of the best and most elite athletes I've ever seen because they can take all of their previous experience and apply it to this game.”
For Walton her hope as life gets back to normal is to see the sport grow across Canada and become more accessible to female athletes, she has seen many athletes from a variety of sporting backgrounds find their way to football and succeed past even their own expectations, and that along with her love of the game is what keeps her coming back each season.
The Calgary Rage, like many other teams, has bled members since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you are interested in joining, check out their website or their Facebook page.
Enduring setbacks due to Covid-19 and changes in members hasn't stopped the Calgary Rage from finding success in their league, developing skills in football and experiencing unique and unforgettable moments with women from all different walks of life.
If the Rage win this weekend the will be headed to Saskatoon Saskatchewan for the championship game on June 25th.
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