This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Women's gridiron football, more commonly known as women's American football, women's Canadian football, or simply women's football, is a form of gridiron football (American or Canadian) played by women. Most leagues play by the same rules as their male counterparts, with one exception: women's leagues use a slightly smaller football. Women primarily play on a semi-professional or amateur level in the United States. Very few high schools or colleges offer the sport solely for women and girls. However, on occasion, it is permissible for a female player to join the otherwise male team.
The first evidence of women playing organized football was in 1926. It was then that an NFL team called the Frankford Yellow Jackets (the predecessors to the modern Philadelphia Eagles) employed a women's team for halftime entertainment.
Leagues play American football unless otherwise noted.
- IconWFA Premier League of Texas (IWFA) (8 on 8)
- Women's Football Alliance (WFA)
- United States Women's Football League (USWFL)
- Extreme Football League (X League - Formerly Legends Football League)
- Women's Arena Football League (WAFL)
- Women's National Football Conference (WNFC)
- Xtreme Female Football League of Texas (XFFL) (8 on 8)
- Women's Tackle Football League (WTFL)
- Utah Girls Football League (GFL) (youth/high school level)
- Maritime Women's Football League (MWFL) (Canadian football)
- Western Women's Canadian Football League (WWCFL) (Canadian football)
- Female Gridiron League of Queensland
- Ladies Football League
- Ladies Gridiron League
- Women's Gridiron Leagues of Australia
- Gridiron West (WA)
- Legends Football League Europa (LFL) (Debut 2015)
- Austrian Football Division Ladies (AFL Division Ladies) (Debut 2000)
- British American Football Association Womens (BAFA Womens)
- 2. Damenbundesliga
- Aufbauliga NRW
- Football Xtremo Femenil
- Asociación de Football Femenil Equipado
- Liga Mexicana de Football Lingerie
- Pretty Girls Football League
- Liga Iberoamericana de Bikini Football
- Women's Football League
US Defunct Leagues
- Women's Professional Football League (WPFL) 1965-1973
- National Women's Football League (NWFL) 1974-1988
- Western States Women's Professional Football League (WSWPFL) 1978-1980
- Women's Tackle Football Association (WTFA) 1988-1990
- Women's Affiliate Football Conference (WAFC) 2002
- United Women's Football League (UWFL) 2002
- American Football Women's League (AFWL) 2002-2003
- Women's American Football League (WAFL) 2001-2003
- Women's Football Association (WFA) 2002-2003
- Ladies Tackle Football League (LTFL) (Central California, disbanded circa 2004?)
- Women's Football League (WFL) 2002-2007
- Women's Professional Football League (WPFL) 1999-2008
- National Women's Football Association (NWFA) 2000-2009
- Independent Women's Football League (IWFL) 2001-2018
Women in college and professional football
Of the women who have seen action in men's college and pro football, almost all have been in special teams positions that are protected from physical contact. The first professional player was a placekick holder (a traditionally trivial position usually occupied by a person who holds another position on the team), while the best known female college football players were all placekickers, with all having primarily played women's soccer prior to converting.
Patricia Palinkas is on record as being the first female professional football player, having played for the Orlando Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Football League in 1970. Palinkas was a placekick holder for her placekicker husband.
On October 18, 1997, Liz Heaston became the first woman to play and score in a college football game, kicking two extra points. Prior to this game, female athletes at Duke and Louisville had come close to playing in a game but did not. In 2001, Ashley Martin became the second female athlete to score in a college football game, this time in the NCAA.
In 2003, Katie Hnida became the first woman to score in a NCAA Division I-A game. She accomplished this as placekicker for the University of New Mexico Lobos on August 30, 2003. She later became the second professional player, when she signed with the Fort Wayne FireHawks.
Julie Harshbarger, a placekicker for numerous Chicago-based Continental Indoor Football League teams, became the first female player to win a most valuable player award in an otherwise all-male league in 2014. By kicking five field goals that season, she earned the title of special teams player of the year, leading all kickers in the league in scoring; with a career spanning seven seasons, Harshbarger's career was the longest documented of any woman playing in a predominantly men's professional league.
In 2020, Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power Five football game when she took the opening kickoff of the second half of the Commodores' game against the Missouri Tigers with a 30 yard squib kick on November 28, 2020. (It is important to note that the term "Power Five" was not in use when Katie Hnida became the first woman to score in an NCAA Division I-A game in 2003; Hnida played at the Mountain West Conference, which did not have Automatic Qualifying status in the Bowl Championship Series.)
To date, no women have ever tried to play a line position above the high school level. Holley Mangold, whose brother Nick played several years in the NFL and who herself played as a lineswoman in high school, declined to further pursue football in college, fearing she had no chance to play professionally as a woman; she later went on to become an Olympic weightlifter.
Brittanee Jacobs is the first female football coach at the collegiate level. She helped coach safeties at Central Methodist University during the 2012 season. Welter became the first female coach at the professional level when she took a preseason position with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015; a year later, Kathryn Smith, who had spent several years as a front office assistant, took a quality control coaching position with the Buffalo Bills, making her the first permanent female coach in National Football League history. In 2020, Callie Brownson became the first woman to coach an NFL position group in a regular-season game when she filled in for the Cleveland Browns tight ends coach Drew Petzing.
There is no team officially. But the world governing body for American football associations, the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), held the first ever Women's World Cup in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2010. Six nations participated in the inaugural event: Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and the United States. The United States won the gold by beating Canada, 66-0. The Women's World Championship is on the 4 year schedule with other international games. The 2013 World Championship, in Finland, was held from 30 June 2013 to 7 July 2013. The USA won gold again, beating Sweden 84-0 and Germany 107-7 in order to make it to the gold medal match with Canada, whom they beat 64-0. In the 2017 IFAF Women's World Championship, held in Canada, the six teams invited were; Australia, Canada, Finland, Great Britain, Mexico and the United States. The US continued their dominance, claiming gold, while Canada and Mexico won silver and bronze respectively.
IFAF has confirmed Palma, located on the Spanish island of Mallorca, Spain as host for 2021 IFAF Flag Football World Championship from October 6 to 10 2021 It will be the first time Spain has staged the World Championships which have been held since 1998. Normally conducted every two years, Denmark was scheduled to host the 2020 edition only for it to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Women's American football.|
- Melinda Sparks. "Central Florida Anarchy Women's Football Team Home". Cfanarchy.com. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
- "A History of Women in Tackle Football". Angelfire.com. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
- Ley, Bob (October 15, 2000). "Page 2-Outside the Lines: Heather Sue Mercer suit". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 19, 2011.
- "Woman Kicks Extra Points". New York Times. October 20, 1997. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-10-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (2-2 PATs, New Mexico vs. Texas State, 8/30/03)
- "Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller makes history as first woman to play in a Power Five college football game". CBSSports.com. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
- "Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller to suit up vs. Missouri on Saturday, can make history". ESPN. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
- "Vanderbilt's Sarah Fuller could be first woman to play in Power 5 football game". ABC News. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
- Valade, Jodie (May 29, 2010). "Nick Mangold's 'girly-girl' sister gives up football for weightlifting". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
- Dellenger, Ross (2012-10-02). "Jacobs gets foothold in football coaching". Columbia Daily Tribune. Retrieved 2013-05-02.
- "Cleveland Browns: Callie Brownson becomes first female NFL position coach". Sky Sports.
- "International American Football". www.ifaf.org. Retrieved 2020-12-30.
- "Women's Professional Football" history to 2000 Stuart Kantor, ProFootballResearchers.com (PDF)
- "History of women's football (so far)" Central Florida Anarchy
- History of women's football Sacramento Sirens
- The First Women's Football Shirt website
- Women's Football Forums
- Official German website for league play
- "Women Playing American Football in North America and Internationally" Ohio Northern University