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'Only the beginning': The Indigenous girls’ football team that’s making history

For the first time ever, the Falcons Football Club is fielding a senior girls’ team which is competing in the Manitoba Girls Football Association.

Based in Bonivital, the team is almost entirely made up of Indigenous girls from Sagkeeng First Nation.

Most have never played football before and have long commutes just to get to practice.

"They drive every day, an hour and a half just to get to practice and then an hour and a half home after practice,” said Kathy Calancia, Falcons head coach.

Through a partnership with a high school in Sagkeeng First Nation and a rise in interest of girls wanting to play football, the Falcons Football Club established its first senior girls’ team.

However, very few of the girls had any experience playing the sport beforehand.

"Ever since I was in elementary [school] I've played basketball, and basketball has been my favourite sport and then I wanted to try something new,” said Falcons defensive back Emery Fontaine.

With an experienced coaching staff and just two players with any playing experience, tactically speaking, the goal is simply to learn the fundamentals.

The biggest lesson the head coach hopes these girls take away from the experience is how to approach a challenge with confidence and aggression

"When you're aggressive and you’re confident, then you come off as a new player or a new person,” Calancia said.

“Their heads are held high and their body language is all different and this is going to help them in life, in their future and every aspect of everything."

Playing in her first ever game last week, quarterback Jodie Laforte said there was a sense of fear taking the field.

"For the first game I was really nervous, I had butterflies [in my stomach] all day and I was just really scared just because it's tackling,” she said, adding that after the first game her favourite part is the tackling.

Faith Scott is one of the two experienced players on the team, and the only non-Indigenous member of the team.

She said less than a month into the season, the experience has already been a rewarding one.

"Our team is doing really good. It's only been like three weeks and we've all accomplished our own goals in a way and I'm very proud to call this my team,” Scott said.

The team will continue to make history later this summer when it competes at a national tournament as the first-ever team made up of all Indigenous girls.

Calancia hopes is the first of many milestones for this club.

"I want these girls all coming back to me because we need to play again next year. This is only the beginning of the amazing things that are to come,” she said. Top Stories

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