WLU hosts Powderpuff football tournament

University football season may have wound down months ago, but no one bothered to tell these girls.

Last weekend, teams of female football fanatics from across Ontario gathered at Wilfrid Laurier University to take part in the 2010 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Powderpuff tournament.

The event was hosted by Laurier Athletics and the Laurier Lettermen Club – a campus club comprised of male varsity athletes who organize activities to raise funds for various charities.

“The tournament started around 1997,” said Adam Bestard, a member of the Lettermen executive board who completed his fifth and final season with the Golden Hawks’ football team this past fall.

“It was two teams from Laurier and two teams from Waterloo and they just got together on a Friday night and played a couple of games and it just snowballed from there.”

Laurier’s contingent of ten teams -including the eventual tournament champions, Who’s Next- was the largest school representation at the tournament, with other university and college teams making the trek from Ottawa, Kingston, Guelph, Hamilton, Brantford, London and Sault Ste. Marie for a total of 24 teams.

Members of the Lettermen Club serve as the coaches as well as the referees in a round-robin-styled tournament with single-game elimination in the playoffs.

“It’s no contact, very similar to flag football,” explained Bestard. “We’ve make-shifted the rules a bit and the safety of the girls is our number-one thing, but other than that it’s straight flag football.”

The participants in the tournament are traditionally second, third and fourth-years, as groups of friends tend to establish teams and keep them through their university career.

“I’m in second year and a bunch of girls played last year; it sounded like fun but I had blown out my knee for the rugby season,” said Andrea Wadsworth, a defensive end from Queen’s University.

Despite the strict rules of the tournament, Wadsworth feels there’s always ways to get around them depending on your position.

“For our line, we’re basically allowed to push [the other team] back and stuff, and for the D, we can basically do whatever we can to get around them,” she laughed.

According to Bestard, the recruiting process for the tournament has been mostly word of mouth.

“It’s mostly six or seven coaches that try and find a couple girls to get on their team and see if they want to play,” he said.

Wadsworth explains that there may, however, be more formal training for spots on the team.

“We had tryouts at the end of November so we had practices before Christmas exams, and we’ve been practicing since we’ve gotten back,” said Wadsworth.

The event may be called Powderpuff, but the only thing fluffy at the stadium was the snow as the girls finished their season with a bang, with a home team winning the tournament for the first time since 2006.