Canada Question
Women tackle coaching duties at Ottawa Redblacks training camp

Women tackle coaching duties at Ottawa Redblacks training camp

Women tackle coaching duties at Ottawa Redblacks training camp

As the Ottawa Redblacks train for the upcoming CFL season, two women are lending their coaching skills as part of an effort to get more females involved in the league and the sport.

Meagan Ferguson, from Stratford, PEI, and Nadia Doucoure, who lives in Ottawa but is originally from France, have been on the field helping coach the Redblacks defence.

Ferguson started the first women’s tackle football team on PEI, while Doucoure learned the game in France before moving to Canada and playing here.

“Football was in my family,” said Ferguson, whose dad played and who watched both Canadian and American football growing up.

But opportunities for her to play on PEI were in short supply.

“It wasn’t quite there when I was growing up. I actually didn’t even know female football existed until I moved over to New Brunswick.”

Meagan Ferguson was on the coaching staff of the Holland College football team last season, along with being the head coach of its women’s hockey team. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Love at first tackle

It was in New Brunswick that Ferguson was invited by a hockey teammate to play football for the first time.

“I thought it was just going to be a touch and toss kind of night, [but it ended up] being full-fledged female tackle football,” she said. “[I] fell in love and I wanted to keep involved with it moving forward.”

When she returned home to PEI, she stayed in the game any way she could — refereeing, coaching, working on executive boards — which led to her coaching at Holland College and at the provincial level.

We’re going to get there. That’s why we’re here today.— Nadia Doucoure

Doucoure learned the American version of the game in France, but like Ferguson, never had the opportunity to actually play the game.

“I was a ref, I was a coach,” she said. “I wasn’t a player because I didn’t have the chance.”

Both women applied for the CFL’s Women in Football program. Ferguson was selected and Doucoure volunteered to take part after being denied a spot.

Redblacks defensive co-ordinator Mike Benevides said Doucoure and Ferguson have been working extremely hard during their time with the team.

“They’ve learned a tremendous amount for themselves in terms of what they want to get for their own resume,” he said.

“But they’re [also] applying it to the players, and the players are better off for it because they’re great teachers.”

shifting focus

Ferguson and Doucoure are hopeful the focus will soon shift from their gender to their skills on the gridiron.

“We won’t talk about women within a [man’s sport]. We’re just going to talk about best coaches, best personnel to run the football program,” Doucoure said. “We’re going to get there. That’s why we’re here today.”

Nadia Doucoure says she hopes other women will be inspired by what she and Ferguson have accomplished. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

“Whether it’s football or business or any sport at all, I think if you have a passion for something and you have the drive to pursue it … someday it may happen,” Ferguson said.

“The opportunities are there and we’ve just got to be open to them.”

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular

Most discussed