‘Why shouldn’t we be allowed play?’ – Legends Football comes to Ireland

The former Lingerie Football League held its first Irish training session today.

Aminah Rasmussen (middle) who travelled from Denmark for Ireland's Legends Football League try-outs.
Aminah Rasmussen (middle) who travelled from Denmark for Ireland's Legends Football League try-outs.
Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

THEY CAME FROM all over Ireland to take part.

Aminah Rasmussen though, came from much further afield.

“I flew in from Denmark this week just for the try-outs,” says Rasmussen.

The Dane is one of a dozen women who’ve turned up to the first training session of the Legends Football League Ireland team.

The organisation, formerly known as the Lingerie Football League, has undergone a re-branding of  late and is looking to make a splash this side of the Atlantic with teams in the UK, Germany and Ireland.

Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The players showed great potential

“We’re happy with the turnout today,” says Paul Grogan, who’ll work as an assistant coach with the team.

“We have commitments from 25 or so women looking to take part so we’re really pleased.”

Grogan, who is involved with the Dublin Rebels in the Irish American Football League, is also impressed with the calibre of player who has shown up for the try-outs.

“There’s some great potential on show here today and our job is to turn that into football knowledge and ability. I think we can do that.”

While one criticism of the LFL in other countries has been that the quality of coaching has not been up to scratch, Grogan is keen to point out that this won’t be an issue with the Irish franchise:

“Every American football team in Ireland has Sports Council qualified coaches, it’s something our governing body insists on so there’s no issue there.”

But what of the women themselves?

Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

We just want to play football

Most of the participants, it seems, have a background in contact sports already. Some have played rugby, others have played Gaelic football, hurling and soccer.

None though, have travelled as far as Rasmussen.

“I’m an NFL freak and I spend my Sundays sitting on a couch with my dad, watching hours of American football, but there’s just no opportunity to play the sport in Denmark,” she says.

“When I saw this try-out was taking place, I had to come over.”

Rasmussen says her preferred position is linebacker though she’s willing to help out anywhere if it helps her make the team.

It’s abundantly clear from talking to her that she loves the sport and that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to play it, even in the face of concerns regarding the uniforms worn by LFL players.

“I don’t mind [the attire] at all. I just want to play football and why shouldn’t we be allowed to play?”

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Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Another participant, Kelly Dwyer from Tipperary, agrees.

“Initially, I was intimidated by the uniform but as the league has progressed the gear has become no different to that of a gymnast or track athlete.

“I think the quality of the girls, going by today’s turnout, will be extremely high so I think our performance for a group with little experience of the game will be the only distraction worth talking about.”

Dwyer, who hopes to play receiver, signed up for the try-out having been a fan of the sport for a number of years.

“My boyfriend, Ian Cahill,  is a captain for the University of Limerick Vikings in the Irish league and he takes the sport very seriously so it was a natural progression for me to give it a go.

“I jumped at the opportunity to make him spectate for once.”

As outlined earlier this week, the Legends Football League is far from perfect and it remains to be seen if it will take off in Ireland.

However, the fact they have a qualified coaching set-up in place and enough interest from players to make a team viable are encouraging signs for the organisers.

Perhaps most importantly, those attending Saturday’s try-outs were focused on showcasing their drive, determination and athletic ability above all else.

Like Rasmussen, they just want to play football.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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