In 2003 some women had a dream. Kathryn Hogg from Minnesota and Leigh Swansborough from California met on the USAFL forums and decided to have a women's exhibition game at the USAFL National championships in Kansas City. Leigh started recruiting players for the Orange County Bombshells and Denis Ryan agreed to coach a team of "all comers" for them to play at nationals.
In the early days there were alot of discussions about the rules and equipment. In order to include as many women as possible, it was agreed to play non-contact and use a synthetic football. In the end, the Bombshells ran out convincing winners over the All-Comers. The women showed they were passionate and serious about playing footy!
The Bombshells recruited enough women to play a metro league in the now defunct California Australian Football League (CAFL). The Arizona Lady Hawks formed shortly after the match in Kansas City. The two teams met up in Phoenix at the 2004 Metro Footy World Championships. This game introduced the 'wrap up' rule and the Burley Women's football. In a hard fought game, the Bombshells came out on top 2.5.17 to 0.3.3.
Unfortunately the Bombshells had disbanded before the 2004 USAFL Nationals in Atlanta. Another exhibition match was played and this time the women were divided into two teams. Half the women playing were Atlanta locals who had never seen Australian Football until that weekend. Their Gaelic Football and Rugby skills translated quickly and they were hooked. Subsequently, the Atlanta Lady Kookaburras were formed and Wayne Kraska was tapped to coach.
The highlight of 2005 was the first official Women's Championships which were contested in Milwaukee. The teams competing and the final placements were
In 2006, Atlanta took over much of the legwork the Bombshells had done and hit the road. They played away matches at both Florida and Milwaukee and showed they they would be the team to beat in Las Vegas.
In Las Vegas, the women's championships saw a 50% increase in the number of players. We added a fourth team, played 12 a side, and dropped the "wrap up" rule. Atlanta continued their dominance and the final results were
Big strides were taken in 2007: A women's metro competition was held in Arizona, the US Freedom took the field for the first time, Atlanta and Milwaukee played a home and home series, and the Calgary Kookaburras and Baltimore-Washington Eagles formed with huge numbers.
USAFL Australian Advisory Board Director Tony Fairhead has been busy establishing footy training programs for college students studying abroad in Australia. The initial program is at Notre Dame University in Fremantle, Western Australia. In September 2007, the second group of women to go through the program played in a Country Football tournament against experienced Australian teams. They won both their games and the tournament! We are looking forward to the Yankeroos returning and playing footy at home.