Women in American football: tactical, ambitious, versatile: a changing sport

In early February, the National Football League (NFL) announced that seasonal matches in American football would also be played in Munich and Frankfurt am Main from 2022. A practical occasion for International Women’s Day to take a closer look at the role of women in this sport.

One of the most important principles in American football is diversity. Regardless of age, gender, origin and physical condition: Here every athlete finds a suitable position. It does not matter what your physical constitution is, you are part of the team. A reality that is already lived on the pitch, it is sometimes different outside the sidelines.

American football as a pure male sport?

Let’s be honest: American football is still widely regarded as a male-only sport, with physics playing the biggest role. We should have said goodbye to such a stereotypical way of thinking a long time ago. Yes, on the one hand, it’s about physical strength, which of course women also have – just on a different scale. On the other hand, to understand and implement the game in all its complexity. And men and women are much closer together than you think. Because women and girls have practiced this sport for decades and have played by the same rules as their male counterparts. There is no difference.

Munich Cowboys Ladies in the match against Stuttgart Scorpions Sisters.
© ES Photo Art

New ideals as role models for sports

The NFL shows us how. Let’s take Laura Young as an example. The American was hired by the “New York Giants” as the operational director of the coaching staff and is therefore largely responsible for the development of the team. But women, like Virginia McCaskey (99), have been leading teams, some of which are worth billions, with great success at many other levels for several years. In 2014, Shelby Osborne and in 2019 Toni Harris (26) drew attention to themselves by becoming the first players on a male college football team to not only kick the ball – a first. In addition, the NFL established a support program that specifically enables women to assume leadership or coaching positions.

Nadine Nurasyid: “It’s no coincidence that I’m in the position I’m in now. I’ve worked really hard for it.”

While the establishment of women as (assistant) coaches is relatively fairer in America, people in Germany still hold back. The Munich club, “Munich Cowboys”, is already pioneering and trend-setting. With Nadine Nurasyid (35), a woman has been hired as the head coach of a male Bundesliga team for the first time ever. It did not matter to the club that she was a woman, according to club president Werner Maier in an interview with the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” in November 2021. The decision was due to the combination of many years of experience as an active player and her commitment. as a position coach for various clubs and national teams, as well as her previous employment as sports director for Munich in the years 2019/2020.

Women in American football

Nadine Nurasyid for Munich Cowboys Ladies match against Mülheim Shamrocks.
© Hubert Bädorf

So is American football still considered a purely male-dominated sport? In the light of developments probably not. More and more ambitious, ambitious women who want to make a difference in the sport are coming into focus. This applies not only to the management and coaching, but also to all the players who train hard every day, acquire specialist knowledge and are passionate about doing what they love – namely playing American football. While there is still much that can be done in terms of gender equality, sport with all its facets provides good opportunities to live out diversity at all levels and abandon outdated conventions.

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