As the Halifax Xplosion of the Maritime Women’s Football League work tirelessly toward building a championship-caliber team, Sarah Attewell is emerging as an invaluable component. Part of the hopeful championship blueprint, Attewell is a multiple MWFL All-Star whose leadership and experience make her a leader for the improving franchise.
Like many of her peers in the MWFL, Attewell’s first exposure to the sport came through rugby. In participating at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level with the St. Thomas Tommies varsity rugby squad, Attewell quickly learned the values of leadership and teamwork. Those values have served her well with Halifax as she is part of a team culture that fosters friendship and belonging.
“When I was young I had an interest in a lot of sports, but it was not until I started playing rugby in high school that I really fell in love with a sport. I continued to play rugby when I went to St. Thomas University.
“Playing university rugby fostered a real appreciation for team sport and an understanding of what it takes to work as a team. When I moved to Halifax, I wanted to meet new people and be part of a team. I saw a poster about the Xplosion and I got really excited to learn a new sport. I knew nothing about football before I started playing with the Xplosion. The team was so welcoming and I instantly felt like I belonged with them.”
While Attewell is working tirelessly to provide the franchise with a championship, her career has been showered with numerous accolades and honors. Being named to the MWFL All-Star team is a great point of pride in her budding career.
“It is an honor to be selected a MWFL All-Star. I do not play football for awards; I play for the feeling I get when I am on the field and after a game. If my whole body hurts, I know I had a great game, and that is my motivation.”
Having joined the Xplosion in 2011, her career continues to evolve and grow into one where she employs a stronger leadership role. As the MWFL is a player-run league, many players have to wear the hats of both player and manager. Attewell understands the demands and is displaying true commitment as a team player by also trying to contribute off the field.
“This is my third season playing for the Xplosion and I am finding myself in more of a leadership position on and off the field. There is a lot of work behind the scenes with a football team and I like to help our team out the best I can.
“On the field I try to keep a positive attitude and encourage other players. I have had the opportunity to learn different positions, and I try to help newer players gain confidence in their spot on the field. I am always ready to go on the field wherever and whenever the coaches need me.”
Still in the prime of her career, Attewell is able to reflect on the frustrations of losing with strong dignity. Not afraid of the responsibilities required to help her team elevate to the next level, Attewell understands that the first necessary change is confidence. In discussing what it will take for the Xplosion to win a championship, Attewell discussed,
“For the Xplosion to win the championship, we need to believe that we can win. I think we are so used to being the underdog that we do not know how to approach the game as winners. This season has been monumental for our team.
“I know we have not put a win on the board yet, but I know it will be happening soon. Anyone who watched our games in the past, and then watched our last three games (in 2013), knows we are working for a win. Once we have that first win I think we will be unstoppable. Our coaches have set us up to win. We just have to finish it on the field.”
Despite the lean years of losing, it has not quelled her desire to compete and excel. The motivation to succeed only runs stronger, and it has helped to further the appreciation that she has toward other teammates that have helped to put the franchise on stronger footing.
“We have been so blessed to have leaders on our team like Tasha McMaster and Heather Archibald that give of their time and do not give up on us. I am also very thankful for all the time and effort our coaches put into the sport. We could not do any of this without them.
“We are lucky to have a great group of women playing on our team that are giving it their all. It is easy to be part of a team when they are winning, but being part of a team that is struggling for a win takes real heart. When we have our first win it is going to be the best feeling! I will cry like a baby and I cannot wait.”
With the 2013 campaign signifying the MWFL’s landmark 10th-anniversary season, the growing league is currently the only women’s sporting league in Canada to have reached the 10-year mark. The opportunity to be part of the historic year is one that provides Attewell with great happiness.
“I LOVE that I am playing in the MWFL's 10th-anniversary season. I am thankful for every game that I can lace my cleats up and play this sport. I just love to play. I hate when the game is over and hate even more when the season is over.”
Like many of her peers in the MWFL, Attewell is an articulate and educated individual. Her spirit for the game represents the culture that makes the MWFL an exciting and dynamic league.
As the sport of women’s football continues to grow throughout the world, the MWFL helped to lead the charge in Canada by empowering ambitious and remarkable women. Attewell is part of the next generation of amazing women who are getting the well-deserved chance to experience athletic glory.
“I am very excited for the growth of women's football and women's sports in general. I want every young girl to have a chance to play a sport like football so they can feel empowered by what they are capable of. I would not be half the person I am now if I did not play sports. The great part about our league is that you do not have to be 'young' to play. Anyone who wants the chance to experience football can with us.”
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise indicated.