During spring, women’s professional football players take the field in one of two professional leagues: the WFA and the WNFC. Here’s how to watch women’s football this season.
In January, the Women’s Football Alliance, one of two professional women’s tackle football leagues in the United States, signed a landmark broadcasting deal with ESPN2.
The deal allows the WFA Pro Division National Championship, which will take place at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, OH, to broadcast live on ESPN2 during July 8-10.
It’s a major development for the growth of women’s football, as the lacking coverage of women’s football has long restricted the growth of the sport.
But before two WFA teams make it all the way to the “Mecca of Football”, there is an entire regular season of women’s football to watch this spring and summer in two distinct leagues: the WFA and the WNFC (Women’s National Football Conference).
Here are all the details on the two women’s professional football leagues in the United States with more information on how to watch games and support local teams in your area.
What is the WFA?
The WFA is the “largest, longest-running, and most competitive women’s tackle football league in the world.” Though there have been several professional women’s football leagues since 1967, the WFA’s 13-year existence is a testament to the league’s non-profit business model, which “encouraged community and corporate sponsorship with revenue being re-invested into its WFA teams and players.” This has allowed the WFA to be supported by major companies such as Wilson and Secret.
Since 2009, the league has grown across the nation and currently includes 11 Pro Division teams. The WFA also includes Division 2 teams, Division 3 teams, and developmental teams. According to a map of WFA teams, there are 69 teams across all levels.
One of the most prominent WFA teams, the Boston Renegades, won the last WFA National Championship. Formed in 2015, the Renegades continue a rich history of women’s football in Boston that began with the pre-WFA Massachusetts Mutiny in 2001.
Just like their NFL New England Patriots counterparts, Boston-based women’s football teams have brought home six national championships to Titletown. The Renegades have won three consecutive WFA Championships: in 2018, 2019 and 2021.
“All of my Boston teammates who live there, they say there’s something in the water,” Renegades wideout Adrienne Smith told FanSided. “Boston constantly wins, and you could just make up a sport, like, flicking pencils into a cup. People in Boston would be the best at it.”
What is the WNFC?
Although the WFA is currently the longest-running women’s professional football league, it is not the only professional women’s football league. The WNFC, which was created in 2018, has already grown exponentially to include 17 teams across the United States.
The aim of the WNFC is to “create and foster an environment for female athletes to sustain healthy lifestyles through playing, coaching and participating in American Football at the highest level.”
Holly Custis, who is a 16-year veteran linebacker inducted into the Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018, plays for the Utah Falconz of the WNFC.
“The WNFC has done a lot in just a handful of years,” Custis told FanSided. “I think it’s a difference in philosophy, but what I’ve noticed is since the WNFC came along a few years ago, the WFA kind of stepped up their game, too. So it’s a healthy competition right now, which I think is the best thing that I’ve seen for the sport in a while.”
The WNFC has also landed major sponsorship deals and a massive contract for their own championship game this summer. The WNFC is sponsored by Adidas, Riddell and Vyre, a streaming platform that streams WNFC games. The WNFC’s 2022 IX Cup Championship will be hosted at another mecca for American football: The Star in Frisco, TX, which is the indoor practice field of the NFL Dallas Cowboys.
The WNFC is working to make women’s football more accessible and affordable, as the “pay-to-play” model is something that women’s football leagues have struggled with for years.
“The WNFC and the teams in the WNFC are working to do everything in their power to significantly reduce and eventually eliminate the “pay to play” burden,” reads the team’s website.
How to watch WFA football
The 2022 WFA season kicked off on April 9, and it continues until May 28.
Then, the 2022 WFA Pro Division National Championship takes place on July 9.
Televised WFA games can be found aggregated on their website, while live games can be streamed on FTF Sports. Games are also available on Roku, Twitch, Xbox, NXT LVL, fios by Verizon, AT&T U-verse, and DirectTV.
The WFA also produces a weekly matchup preview show called, “Road To Canton”, which recently featured D.C. Divas wide receiver Lois Cook. Cook is one of four women’s football players who represents Team Milk, and she opened up to FanSided in February about her love of the game.
According to the WFA, “over 150,000 fans tuned into the 2021 Games of the Week broadcasted on Roku and DirecTV.”
How to watch WNFC football
The 2022 WNFC season kicked off on April 2, and it lasts eight weeks until May 21. After a league-wide bye week, the WNFC playoffs take place between June 9-11.
Then, the 2022 IX Cup Championship Weekend is from June 24-26.
The 2022 WNFC season can be streamed on the Vyre Network.
All WNFC games are exclusively on Vyre and are free to watch. The network premiers live men’s and women’s sports with an emphasis on advancing the coverage of women’s sports, which has been a major hurdle for many women’s sports leagues.
How to support women’s football
If you’re unable to attend a game in-person, you can stream the games live. While this might seem insignificant, every viewer matters: the streaming numbers showcase the demand for women’s football and justify major broadcasting deals with television networks. If more viewers tune in to women’s football, then these athletes can be seen on networks like ESPN2 for more than just their championship game.
Partnerships and media coverage are a major step in advancing the game for women and bringing the game to more fans. According to the WFA, “hundreds of media outlets have written articles about the WFA in the past year including ESPN, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Washington Post, and New York Times, reaching millions of readers.”
This means that for companies associated with these teams, it allows their brands to be seen by a larger sports audience as the game continues to grow.
For businesses, sponsoring teams in the WFA and WNFC alleviates the financial burden these athletes face while associating their brand with an important cause: advancing the equity for women in football.
“Women’s sports needs all the support it can get,” reads the WNFC’s website. “Women’s football is the most underrepresented of all. We are always looking for organizations who want to help see women’s sports thrive. Building mutual partnerships with our sponsors is what the WNFC is about. If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor/partner of the WNFC, please email admin@wnfcfootball.”