There are professional women's football teams across the country, including teams in Savannah and in Atlanta. They use a smaller ball than what men use on the field, but the rules mirror those followed by NCAA football.
GPB "All Things Considered" host Rickey Bevington sat down with April Christler, who founded the Atlanta Phoenix, to talk about her players' passion for the pigskin.
Rickey Bevington ( host, GPB All Things Considered) How did you become involved in women’s football?
April Christler (founder of the Atlanta Phoenix women’s football team):
I would say that, it started with the repairing or a broken heart. I started playing because I went through a terrible breakup. And I needed something therapeutic to take my frustrations out. And so, I believe it was 2007...2008. I was helping a friend move, and I guess I’m fairly strong for a female. And a recruiter for a team that no longer exists here in Atlanta, the Atlanta Explosion, saw me. And she said “You know what? You’d be great for football.” And I’m athletic. I look athletic. I have an athletic build, whereas I was a basketball player. I went to the tryouts, and I did not do very well, but I was strong. I made the team, but as a defensive tackle. I started on my football journey as a football player as a defensive tackle for a team here in Atlanta. So, from there, I had a lot of ideas on how we could grow the sport because I saw there wasn’t very much publicity, there wasn’t very much visibility. Not very much corporate or business support. And me being a project manager by trade, we operate in a “if it’s broken, we can fix it” kind of mentality and I brought a lot of ideas and project management that we could incorporate into women’s football, and I started my own team. Because I figured, if someone was going to do it right, why not be me.
Rickey Bevington: How do the rules of your team or league differ from the NFL’s
The rules right now are reflective of the NCAA rules. We did have an all NFL rule with slight modifications. But because of the lack of resources and getting referees who actually know the NFL rules who are not already NFL officials. We can't hire NFL referees. So it makes it more consistent and unified if we all just adopt the NCAA rules with some slight modifications. So, they are very similar to the NCAA collegiate rules