In their inaugural season, the U18 female Central Alberta Fire football team is one win away from the gold medal game.
This Sunday the undefeated Fire will head to Calgary to take on the fourth-place Okotoks Eagles with a berth to the championship game on the line.
Kickoff will be at 11:30 a.m. at Hellard Field in Calgary. If they win they’ll be back in southern Alberta next week on Sunday, June 25 at 1 p.m. at Shouldice Park in Calgary to play for the 2023 U18 Female Football Championship.
Head coach Martin Rheaume said they’re excited about the opportunity to compete for gold.
“Our girls really met the challenge and went undefeated for the season and now the chance to take it further,” he said.
“Now it’s really on them to lean on each other and hopefully produce the wanted outcome.”
In their first year in the league, the Fire went a perfect 3-0 during the regular season defeating Airdrie, Okotoks, and Calgary. They started off the season with a 32-12 win over Airdrie followed by a 37-12 victory over Okotoks. Central Alberta finished off the season with a 19-6 win over Calgary.
The Fire has girls from Red Deer, Innisfail, Stettler, Sylvan Lake, and Lacombe on the squad this year. Rheaume explained some of them had never played before but in addition, many on the roster have bantam-level experience on the field.
“When you have that experience come in it really elevates the girls who have never played before to meet that same level,” he said.
“To see that growth and to see the girls come together as a team it’s nothing short of incredible.”
The girls play a six-side style of football and Rheaume said it was a challenge at first but it didn’t take long for it all to fall into place. The girls grasped it but not without a few challenges along the way. With the right coaches and players around he added the team made it easy on him.
“I’ve had more fun with this team than I can remember throughout all the years of coaching. It’s really been a fun ride,” he said.
The Fire were brought to the U18 Female Football League to give young girls a chance in central Alberta to play football in an all-girls league. So far with an undefeated record, their play has spoken to the talent in central Alberta.
“We are producing better players every year and the girls we have who have that experience hats off to the coaches they’ve had in the past,” Rheaume said.
“They’re bringing their experience and their excellent work ethic with them. That’s surely not lost on all of us coaches on the fire.”