The Saskatoon Sirens running plays during their practice in Sutherland park.
With only days remaining before Canada’s Lingerie Football League kicks off its inaugural season, the Saskatoon Sirens are practicing hard and finalizing their roster.
Their home opening game will be against the British Columbia Angels on Sept. 1 at the Credit Union Centre.
Since the proposal of the LFL expansion to Canada, controversy has surrounded the women’s full contact football league, largely due to the players’ lingerie uniforms that offer less protection compared to other professional football uniforms. Many critics believe the scanty uniforms are a reflection of a male-driven sports spectacle focused on attractive women in small amounts of clothing rather than football.
At the Saskatoon Sirens practice on Aug. 20, offensive linewoman Candace Friesen gladly responded to the criticisms.
“I’d say thank you because I’m flattered that anyone thinks I’m good looking, but come watch a game and you will see that it’s also real football with real hitting and real strategy.”
The league’s mission statement affirms that the game is intended to blend action, impact and beauty.
The LFL has many rule variations from the National and Canadian football leagues including seven-on-seven play, a 50-yard field and four downs without the option to punt or kick a field goal.
Sirens head coach Chris Lambiris said he has so far been impressed with his players’ ability to learn the game.
“Some players are very knowledgeable about the game and have a good understanding of it,” he said. “Where they lack is the actual systems and techniques of things like tackling, blocking and catching. It’s a little bit of a slow process but they’re adapting pretty well.”
The Sirens can contract a limit of 20 players to their roster. Currently 18 women have signed to the club. Those women who sign contracts are not paid to play but have all of their expenses paid during away games.
The two remaining spots are still being fought for at practices, with new players trying out at nearly every practice.
One of those unsigned players is Emily Keenan, who came to her first practice Aug. 20. Keenan, who was born with only one hand, was excited about the opportunity to try out for the Sirens.
“I thought it was awesome. I wanted to get more into it but [those of us not under contract] didn’t have equipment,” Keenan said following the practice.
Keenan doesn’t believe her coaches have treated her differently than other players but she’s conscious of her disability.
“I try harder because I personally think that I have more to prove just so that people don’t think they have to play softer against me.”
The Sirens will play four games this season against the three other Canadian LFL teams: their home opener against B.C., a road game against the Toronto Triumph and a home-and-home series with the Regina Rage.
Each team has been given four players from the U.S. Lingerie Football League in order to add experience to the roster, but it has not yet been determined whether or not those four players will count towards the 20-player limit.
The U.S. league has been in operation since 2009 but will be taking a hiatus this season to focus on expanding the league internationally. Players from the U.S. league will participate in a promotional all-star tour with planned stops in Mexico, Australia and parts of Asia. Canada is the first country outside the U.S. to start its own LFL league. Australia has hopes to launch a league in 2013.
Photo: Josh Schaefer