McMaster Women’s football team making major moves

Hadeeqa Aziz
March 31, 2022
Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

C/O Rob Martin

Haven’t heard of the McMaster women’s football team? Let’s change that.

Many McMaster students may be familiar with our incredible men’s football team. They can often be seen practicing outside in the Ron Joyce Stadium, geared up head-to-toe on a bright sunny afternoon. What students may not know is that three times a week, in a field tucked behind the stadium, practices McMaster’s women’s football team in the thick of winter. At first glance, it may not appear so, as one would be mistaken to find any protective equipment other than the thickest hoodies players can find.  

For those unaware of the structure of varsity sports at McMaster and across other Ontario universities, here’s the breakdown: the McMaster Marauders are registered for 16 sports in the OUA that compete at provincial levels. Of those, there are 11 sports from McMaster represented at U Sports — the national governing body of university sports in Canada. For reference, McMaster’s men’s football team is represented at the U Sports level.  

Unfortunately, although MWF athletes have the same training intensity and time commitment as varsity teams, the team is not recognized under the OUA. This means they are obligated to acquire their own funding and take on the title of a “club team,” grossly underrating the magnitude of effort invested by both players and coaches. Each year, the team is organized by a team of executive members, including the president Sophie Nezan and coach representative Justice Allin.  

“We don’t have the opportunities that the men’s football teams do. [Since] we are not recognized by varsity organizations, we are in charge of finding athletes and coaches, ensuring fields are booked for us, the finances, social media promotion and organizing tournaments,” said Nezan.  

“We don’t have the opportunities that the men’s football teams do. [Since] we are not recognized by varsity organizations, we are in charge of finding athletes and coaches, ensuring fields are booked for us, the finances, social media promotion and organizing tournaments,”

Sophie Nezan, McMaster Women's Football President

The team is under umbrella of the Ontario Women’s Intercollegiate Football Organization, consisting of 10 universities across Ontario, including McMaster. Each season normally begins in February, when the contact flag football tournaments kick off. There are usually two qualifier tournaments and a championship tournament, which was hosted at the Ron Joyce Stadium this past Saturday.  

“Thankfully, OWIFA exists, so we have a lot more opportunities because of them. They cover a huge portion in terms of organizing tournaments, but OWIFA is also an organization made up of athletes from the flag football teams. It’s definitely a lot of pressure,” explained Nezan.  

Though the teams are fortunate to be governed by OWIFA, limited budgets still play a significant role in the experience for athletes. For example, players and coaches are forced to hold nighttime practices due to limited field availabilities and often play tournaments in snowy and icy conditions.  

For good measure, the players are provided with no protective equipment (other than a limited number of generously donated soft-shell helmets) to play in the otherwise contact-heavy sport. All these factors combined make the players incredibly prone to serious injuries, knocking out several over the course of this season alone.  

Despite these difficulties, the MWF team is not a team to be overlooked. Due to a large amount of student interest, McMaster was able to register two teams in this year’s season: Team Marauders and Team McMaster.  

Team Marauders finished with an impressive five and one record on March 12 at the qualifying tournament located at Wilfred Laurier, finishing second place overall. Team McMaster earned itself the title of provincial finalists by also finishing second in the March 19 championship tournament at McMaster.  

“We would love to eventually be under the OUA and for women’s flag football to be at every university across the province and country. Not only is MWF a sport, but the engagement with other women across Ontario is also one of the best things about it,” explained Nezan.  

“We would love to eventually be under the OUA and for women’s flag football to be at every university across the province and country. Not only is MWF a sport, but the engagement with other women across Ontario is also one of the best things about it,”

Sophie Nezan, McMaster Women's Football President

Next steps for MWF include competing in the provincial intercollegiate women’s flag football championships hosted by Team Ontario on April 3, in hopes of progressing to the national championships in Ottawa in May.  

With the sport becoming more and more popular, both OWIFA and MWF continue to advocate and fight for equal opportunities for women’s football. The championship tournament was broadcasted live by junior Mustangs TV to promote fan interest and encourage folks to appreciate the overlooked sport.  

“These aren’t just women playing football; these are football players. Let’s get that out of the way right now,” stated London Junior Mustangs TV on OWIFA athletes.

“These aren’t just women playing football; these are football players. Let’s get that out of the way right now,”

London Junior Mustangs TV

It’s become quite evident that any room for growth in the world of football belongs to women’s football. With over 50 players playing competitively at McMaster alone, it’s hard to find a reason not to invest in the sport and create more opportunities for women across the country. It is unclear when the sport can gain varsity recognition, but, until then, it’s safe to say that the OUA is missing out.

Author

  • Hadeeqa Aziz

    Hadeeqa is a fourth-year biochemistry student who found herself enjoying a good article as much as inspecting bacteria cultures. Now in her second year with The Silhouette, her main focus is to draw readers’ attention toward interesting topics and social issues to allow students to shape well-informed opinions of their own. When she’s not typing away, you can find her on the football field or out scouting for good coffee houses to (not) study.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2022 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.
magnifiercrossmenuarrow-right