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THIS woman is five-foot-two. She weighs 59 kilograms. And believe it or not, she plays professional football — against men. This week, Jennifer Welter became the first woman to play gridiron, in a contact position, against men at the professional level. The 36-year-old linebacker appeared in a pre-season game for a team called the Texas Revolution, in America’s Indoor Football League. Welter got absolutely poleaxed three times. But that didn’t bother her one bit.
Is that all you got?” she asked hulking six-foot-four defender Cedric Hearvey after he smashed her the first time.
“They (the opposition players) were getting all alive, and I had to say something. I didn’t want them to think I was intimidated.”
The three massive hits were caught on video and posted on Instagram. See if you can spot Welter.
She didn’t score any points, or even make any ground, but Welter definitely earned the respect of the guys she was playing against. Particularly Hearvey, the man who kept tackling her.
“Honestly, it was very weird,” he said after the game. “Part of me wanted to let her score, but part of me had a job ... Honestly, I really have a lot of respect for that lady over there.”
Welter had been playing for the Dallas Diamonds, a team in the Women’s Football Alliance, since 2004. She wants the world to realise that women are passionate about gridiron too, the Morning News reports.
“I’ve thought of all the reasons why I might be the wrong person to do this,” Welter said. “The truth is, if I can change the game, literally, for any of those girls, it’s worth it. Because it’s really not about me. It’s about them and the future of the sport.”
Welter won more than respect with her gritty performance. Today the Texas Revolution announced that she has made the 24-player regular season roster, and she’ll suit up “officially” for the first time on Friday night.
“Though there remains work to be done before she can fully contribute on the field, Jen provides an instant and positive impact on our team and organisation as a whole,” said Revolution president Tommy Benzio.
“The line-up has been inspired by her courage, as have women and girls across the country.”