Chicago team Force-ing new gridiron perspective

By Contributing Writer

by: Vanessa Morton, Contributing Writer

The passion and drive of professional football hasn’t been lost because of the weather. But the gender playing the sport is different, and so is the attitude. As the Chicago Force starts another year of running, tackling and scoring, the player’s continue to push through economic issues, such as team funding, and the societal dogma that women can’t play football.

The city’s all-women’s tackle football team comprises 60 competitive athletes who recently entered their eighth season on April 9. They’ve also made a new transition into the Women’s Football Alliance after their eight-year affiliation with the Independent Women’s Football League.

However, quarterback Sami Grisafe said the one thing on their minds is winning the season’s championship game. With two wins already under its belt, the team looks forward to another victory at an upcoming home game against the St. Louis Slam on April 30.

“The goal is to win a championship just like any other sport team,” Grisafe said. “It’s about playing your best and striving for perfection, not just for the win but to better yourself, to make sure you’re improving.”

When the Force began in 2002, the team was part of the IWFL, which intended to establish a quality women’s football league, but it joined the Women’s Football Alliance in November 2010. The partnership was officially established in the beginning of the 2011 season.

According to Linda Bache, six-year team veteran, majority owner and general manager, the decision to leave the IWFL came after hard consideration. She said many of the top women’s teams had a desire to move on because of their unhappiness with the league and its delegation.

“All the top teams were leaving, so it became an easy decision,” Bache said. “We want to be the best. To be the best, you have to beat the best.”

George Howe, assistant general manager and director of media relations, said he agrees with Bache’s decision to join the WFA and stated it was a positive move in the right direction.

“It’s going to be a new experience for us,” Howe said. “It will give us a little bit of motivation because we get a chance to play different teams.”

Despite the team’s transition, being an all women’s tackle football team does come with obstacles, like the constant stereotype that women have no place in the sport.

“There are a lot of people [who] automatically assume it’s not real football because it’s women playing,” Grisafe said. “But between men and women, the sport is just as competitive and well-played as it is with just boys.”

While Howe said he agrees with Grisafe, he also said a major issue is that many people are unaware the league exists.

“The obstacle is to get past the stereotypes and get the word out,” Howe said. “After they see a game, they’ll understand how good these girls are and how passionate they are about the game.”

But Bache strongly thinks WFA’s games need to be broadcast on television, which she said is a solution that will provide the team with more funding opportunities and also help establish women’s tackle football in a more

professional light.

“We have to get the games on TV and make the general public aware,” Bache said. “Right now, not a lot of people know about us. People would find out how high level the play is, how exciting the sport is and our fan base would increase exponentially.”

Although establishing games on TV will be a difficult task, Howe said he thinks broadcasting them would be ideal because presently the team has limited resources when it comes to field space

and sponsorships.

“Getting our games televised would help our team out in many ways,” Howe said. “But we do the best we can with what we have. We will continue to try and peck away, so we can get the door open a little bit to see some progression happen.”

However, Bache said the team will continue to inform people about what it does with hopes to create a greater appreciation and higher fan base.

“In the process of all of this, we’re going to make people aware and change opinions for young boys and girls,” Bache said. “For nine years, our goal has been to make this available, set an example and win

a championship.”