Historic girl’s “Battle of the Border” club team challenge pitted Canada vs USA – Part 1

For the first time ever, an international match between two girl’s tackle football leagues took place in Mooresville, Indiana. The Indiana Girls Tackle Football League (IGTFL) hosted the North Winnipeg Nomads of the Manitoba Girls Football Association (MGFA) from Canada. One game was between Junior teams made up of girls in grades 4 through 8, and the second Senior game saw girls in grades 10 through 12 playing each other.

The games came about through the efforts of the Nomads head coach Dennis Radlinsky, and Chad Oldham, the president of the Morris Cohen Mooresville Junior Football League. The MGFA was searching for a game against girl’s teams outside of Manitoba, and contacted the other league in the United States – Utah Girls Tackle Football, to try to arrange a game, but was unable to arrange a match. Radlinsky then contacted the Indiana league, and they agreed to play the games.

The Nomads, leavened by additional senior players from other league teams, arrived in Indiana with the significant advantage of having several players who had up to eight years of previous experience, while the Indiana league has only been in existence for two. In 2011, Lisa Zueff Cummings and Tannis Wilson, two players who played for the Manitoba Fearless women’s football team decided that rather than wait until their 30s, as they had done, girls should be able to play when they were young. They created the MGFA with around 40 girls organized into three teams playing 6 a side. The MGFA now has 180 girls on eight senior and four junior teams. Another league on the east coast has an additional three teams with another 80 players.

The IGTFL began playing in 2016, spearheaded by Oldham, whose daughter wanted to play, so he helped create the league. Their players are divided into three divisions. Grades 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12.

This game was not the first international experience for the Canadians. In July 2014, a team made up of players from the MGFA traveled to Durham, North Carolina to play a showcase game during the halftime of the Independent Women’s Football League championship game. They had the chance to meet several veterans of the Toledo Troopers, one of the first women’s professional football teams. The Nomads also played another demonstration game during halftime of a college football game at the University of St. Thomas on November 15, 2015.

The night before the game, after a twenty plus hour bus trip, the MGFA team arrived for a walk through the night before and then were hosted by the IGTFL in a banquet at Mooresville High School.

The weather forecast for the next day looked bleak, with heavy rainstorms predicted, but that didn’t seem to dampen any spirits the night before the big games. The Nomads, as was appropriate, traveled with a number of family members, and everyone, home and away was in high spirits.

Russ Crawford is an Associate Professor of History at Ohio Northern University in Ada, OH. He has published three books: Women’s American Football: Breaking Barriers On and Off the Field (2022), Le Football: The History of American Football in