Huddle up for ladies' gridiron

Shari Harbottle of Springfield Lakes will compete in her first Ladies Football League match tonight.
Shari Harbottle of Springfield Lakes will compete in her first Ladies Football League match tonight. David Nielsen

PICK the odd one out - shoulder pads, football boots, bras, mouthguards, headgear and scrums.

Wrong. There are no scrums in gridiron.

Less than a year after the Ladies Football League concept was first mooted by Ipswich local Tala Schultz, the first exhibition game will kick off tonight in Brisbane.

Based on the Lingerie Football League in America, minus the lingerie, the league proper will kick off in September with four south-east Queensland teams.

Up to six Ipswich women will take the field tonight including Springfield Lakes resident Shari Harbottle.

The 25-year-old attended the first open training run at North Ipswich Reserve in November and instantly fell in love with the game.

"The combine training was excellent and I've been training with the girls since then," she said.

"I'd seen it on TV but never played before, but because of the way they play it really interested me.

"It's full on with a lot of hard hits - not dainty at all."

The mother of two will line up at running back in the inaugural game, which will be played over two 20-minute halves at Langlands Park, Coorparoo.

A shadow player for the Queensland oz-tag team, Mrs Harbottle admitted some parts of the new sport would take a little getting used to.

"I had to get over having to catch a forward pass," she said.

"I've never done a physical sport before so I found that a lot different as well.

"At first it's a bit nerve wracking but it's also empowering, especially when you're doing the hitting as well. Your whole body is sore after training but it is a good feeling."

The women will play a series of preliminary games between now and September before beginning an intrastate competition.

The winning Queensland team will then take on the top teams from other states.

Mrs Schultz said while people may think that the overseas sport was based on scantily clad girls, they shouldn't underestimate the athletic prowess of competitors.

"A lot of these girls play oz-tag, touch, rugby league and netball," she said.

"So quite a few of them play representative sports as well as taking on the gridiron."

Topics:  football gridiron ladies football league

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