Hailing from Oberkulm, Switzerland, Filomena Bieri is one of the international superstars competing in the Western Women's Canadian Football League. A member of the Lethbridge Steel, Bieri has a great enthusiasm for the game. With football highly uncommon among female athletes in her native Switzerland, the world of opportunity that comes with participating in the WWCFL is one that she is very proud of.
“Tackle football is not a common sport in Europe, let alone Switzerland. I feel honored to play full contact football in Canada, and I can even say I am part of the WWCFL (Westerns Women Canadian Football League). It is a whole new world and an incredible experience.”
“The things I knew about North American culture were based on movies and a little bit of traveling when I visited. So when I moved to Canada and went to Lethbridge Collegiate Institute (a school 10 times larger than the high school I went to in Switzerland), I felt like I was in a movie with all the hallway lockers and so many kids and the school system.”
Having immigrated to Canada, Bieri was introduced to a much larger world—that introduction brought with it exposure to tackle football. Despite the desire to attempt the sport, there were those who brought outdated views on her involvement in the sport.
“I saw the Rams practice after school sometimes, and I thought to myself, I should see if I can try it out. I only got a weird look and a 'You are a girl' response. That day, I decided that I will play football some day, and I will show them how girls can play tackle football. In 2010 my opportunity came when Lethbridge Steel as they became the third Women’s tackle football team in Alberta.”
That determination has made Bieri a highly valued member of the Steel. An emotional moment in her career came at the end of the 2012 Steel season. With the club having enjoyed an undefeated regular season, she was bestowed the honor of being named the Outstanding Defensive Player. On a team loaded with talent throughout, the recognition was a great point of pride.
“It meant the world to me; I almost broke out in tears. I worked very hard every practice and gave a 110% every game. Being named Outstanding Defensive Player made me feel appreciated and immensely honored by the team and the coaches!”
Bieri’s enthusiasm for the game was evident in the squad’s opening match in the 2013 season. Playing on the road against the expansion Okotoks Lady Outlawz, Bieri helped the Steel to an astounding 74-0 win.
“It was amazing! A sunny day, a great team, a greater game and even more fun. Lethbridge Steel had to show what we learned so far. The whole team did great on and off the field; we all bonded more every minute of the game and played with genuine heart.”
After the heartbreak of losing the 2012 WWCFL championship (to the undefeated Saskatoon Valkyries), Bieri is working towards another run. While the 74-0 opening day win brings with it great momentum, the team must be prepared to overcome any possible adversity down the road. When asked what it will take to win the championship in 2013, Bieri replied,
“A team built of steel that has heart as big as the moon and passion for the game as big as the sun and eagerness throughout the game even in hard times. We will have to work hard and be focused every second of the whole season. Know your positions and give 100% every practice and 110% every game.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”