‘It’s a cool sport because you have to think all the time’: how the women’s American soccer team trains

The correspondent of the youth edition of the “Petersburg Diary” visited the training of the women’s team in American football and felt for herself whether it is difficult to catch the ball in heavy equipment, as well as learned from the girls-athletes why they are engaged in this sport

The Valkyrie team is Russia’s first women’s American soccer team. It was founded by the player of the men’s team “Griffins”. In 2019, Valkyrie won silver in the Finnish Premier League. But despite the team’s victories, no one sponsors it. Women’s American football does not officially exist in Russia. It is because of this that the girls have to buy their own uniforms, pay the rent of the hall and go to competitions in Finland. This is the nearest country in which this sport is developed and you can find worthy rivals. Helsinki is played by strong girls from the Finnish national team, the best team in Europe.

The members of the Valkyrie team play American football for their pleasure, they are not paid for it. But the athletes still train a lot to keep themselves in shape. In addition to training on the field, participants go to the gym, do athletics, develop reaction speed, and analytical thinking. For example, the administrator and team member Maria Lebedeva trains 5 times a week.

According to Alexandra Mansurova, a girl who has played at Valkyrie since the very beginning, and now trains female athletes, absolutely everyone is taken into the team. Because each position needs players of different composition, growth. Even those who do not have training are accepted. But often come and girls who have already engaged in other sports. So Daria Perchenko came to American football, wanting to try something new. She plays in the Valkyrie team in defense as a back-up.

“I came to American football in 2013 in Khabarovsk, saw an ad about the recruitment of a friend in social networks. From early childhood, I was engaged in sports, and I wanted to try something new in life. In American football I was able to unleash my sporting potential, which could not be found in other sports,” she says.

She says she puts on a SeattleSeahawks T-shirt every week, prepares soda, chips, opens a link to an online broadcast of the match, and chats with fans on her phone. “There we swear or rejoice in the success of our favorite team,” she says.

In training, the girls wear a special uniform: a helmet with a mask and a frame to protect the chest, hips, and shoulders from blows. On average, the price of such a set is 15 thousand rubles. The defense is very important because American football is a contact sport. But running and playing in this form is not very easy. The helmet is much heavier than cycling and even a motorcycle. Putting it on your head, it is difficult to turn the neck, it seems that the head outweighs. The voluminous plastic frame also constrains the movement. So it takes a few hours or even days to get used to heavy gear. But I didn’t have time for this, and the team member almost immediately began to teach me to take the ball. Because of the unusual elongated form to catch the ball was not easy, and run away with it in a heavy helmet even more so.