Members of the St. Benedict’s Bears girls’ football team with a pennant marking the first ever girls tackle football game to be played in Canada. Photo courtesy St. Benedict’s Catholic Secondary School

Sudbury, Ottawa squads make history with nation’s first girls tackle football game

By  Jasmine Howell and Hayley Deschenes, Youth Speak News Special
  • June 1, 2022

SUDBURY, ONT. -- May 18 marked a historic moment in Canadian sporting history for young women as Sudbury, Ont.’s St. Benedict’s Catholic Secondary School hosted the first ever officially score-kept girls tackle football game.

The St. Benedict Bears went head to head with the St. Mark Lions on the James Jerome Sports Complex in Sudbury, home of the Bears. The visiting athletes traveled from Ottawa as one of the few girl’s full-contact teams in all of Ontario and all of Canada.

This is not expected to be the case for long. Kim Labrosse, the coach of both the boys and girl’s teams at St. Benedict’s, said “this opportunity has really empowered these women. Not only can they play tackle football but they can do it really well.”

Buzz about this game is expected to spread amongst other Sudbury high schools and draw girls to the sport and all it has to offer in terms of opportunity, leadership and learning.

Peter Prochilo, superintendent of education with the Sudbury Catholic District School Board, spoke excitedly about the future of the sport at a high school level.

“We are excited and proud to be a part of this incredible opportunity for these athletes,” said Prochilo. “As these young women forge ahead as pioneers in sport, this accomplishment will undoubtedly provide them with the mindset to tackle any barriers they may encounter in their future”

The final score was 17-14 for St. Mark’s, but both teams fought hard right to the final whistle. Many spectators expressed their surprise at the skill and passion demonstrated by each girl on the field.

Perhaps a factor in the high level of play was the experience the two teams had to acclimatize to each other two weeks beforehand in Ottawa. St. Benedict’s was invited to visit St. Mark’s for a tactics and offensive plays seminar.

Following the game, athletes partook in a banquet to celebrate this historic occasion. The girls delivered speeches to express their gratitude for their coach’s devotion over a dinner prepared by St. Benedict’s foods and hospitality class

The girls had the opportunity to intermingle with their competition and share their pride in the game. This event displayed the friendship involved in girls tackle football and the connections these women made along the way.

As the winning team, St. Mark’s received the Ann Forster Memorial Trophy to commemorate their triumph on the gridiron. This trophy is named after the wife of Sid Forster, long a great financial booster of the sport in the community.   

This inaugural game in national history has proved that football isn’t just for boys, but something that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy.

The game was an entry by donation event. All profits went toward the breast cancer research championed by the Janis Foligno Foundation. Each St. Benedict Bear wore a pink ribbon on her jersey.

(Howell and Deschenes are guest writers for YSN who play for the

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