The latest season of Women’s Football Alliance has kicked off. But unlike its peers in sports like basketball or soccer, the league is not recognized as a professional one. One of the teams fighting to change that is 2015 champions, D.C. Divas.
CGTN’s Giles Gibson reports.
There’s no place to hide when the D.C. Divas are training. They practice their offense and defense drills, again and again, to get ready for game day. But these women aren’t professional athletes.
They find the money to play through a combination of sponsorship, fundraising and dipping into their own savings.
“It’s definitely challenging. However, when you have the heart for it, the girls are all here, when you come to practice it’s like a family. You make time for it, you make sacrifices, you hit D.C. traffic, hours to get here, but it’s worth it.” Said Tara Mason, D.C. Divas defensive line.
ESPN reports the National Football League franchises made about $255 million in 2017 through merchandise, TV revenue and ticket sales. In contrast, the Women’s Football Alliance national champions took home more than $20,000 in rewards last year.
The Divas’s owner Rich Daniel said there needs to be a cultural shift for women’s contact football to really take off in the U.S.
“Football is the last male bastion of sport, where in many places you get the impression that only males should play or can play. Less and less of that is happening in the US and that’s why you’re seeing – I think – the growth of the sport in this country and also in 25 countries across the world now.”
Established in 2009, the WFA now has more than 2,500 players across 65 different teams. As they try to boost the profile of their sport, they’re also trying to encourage young girls to play football instead of soccer or tennis.
“It’s exciting to be a part of the movement. So later on when we’re retired and little girls are able to play for a women’s professional team, we can say that we paved the way for these little girls,” Kentrina Wilson, D.C. Divas wide receiver said.
For now, the Divas will keep training after work at a local high school, but one day they hope to run out under those bright lights as both professionals and equals.
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