Powder Puff Football to Kickoff Against Southington
Football, in its traditional form, has always been popular in Connecticut and the entire Northeast. However, over the past several years, Powder Puff football in the area has been gaining popularity. Powder Puff football, which is for girls only, is a flag football program that began in the mid-west and in the 1970s, it was introduced in Connecticut, starting in Wallingford before spreading to surrounding towns.
Six years ago, the sport was introduced in New Britain by Janice and Carlos Pina, who were looking for an idea for a senior class fundraiser at New Britain High School. Thus, Powder Puff football arrived in New Britain and has been here ever since. This year, the New Britain High School Powder Puff team will take the field on Monday, November 24 at Southington High School. There are 42 girls on the team and they have been practicing twice a week for this one game since September.
The team is unique in the sense that it is led by coaches who are truly in it for the girls and the community, as evidenced by their professional background. The head coach is Carlos Pina, who is also the Vice Chairman of the Board of Education here in New Britain. The defensive coordinator is Bryan Anderson, who is New Britain’s Fire Marshal. The offensive coordinator is Chris McWilliams, a Sargent in the State Police Department. The special teams coach is Kimani Riley, who works for DCF and the assistant coach is Pete Rojas, a behavioral support specialist for the Meriden Public School System.
Janice Pina, the coordinator for the program, is the one who works behind the scenes to pull everything together so the coaches only have to worry about coaching the girls on the field. Pina said that it means a lot not only for her, but for the coaches as well, to get the girls on a field playing at a competitive level.
“Our goal in all of this is to create unity with a diverse group of young ladies, including some who have never played organized sports before. This game shows that the young ladies in our community are diverse and competitive enough to come together and be successful in playing such a complicated sport, especially because they had to learn it in such a short period of time. They are coming together, are looking good, and are anxious to get on the field and start playing.”
Last year, they defeated Southington 13-6 and will look to do the same this year in their sixth year. The team usually plays only one game per year, but Pina would like to eventually see it become a program that plays a full season schedule.
“Historically, Powder Puff football has been used as a senior fundraiser but I would love to see it as a varsity sport, like it is in the southern states. I believe that it would be a very successful program given the long rich tradition of football here in New Britain.”
Some in the community feel that if the girls are supported well enough year after year, the chances of it becoming a full time sport will be greatly increased. This year, tickets are $5 and can be purchased in the main office at New Britain High School.
All proceeds will go towards jerseys, sweatshirts and t-shirts for the girls. The remaining balance goes towards the class of 2015 for senior activities and scholarships. In 2013, the class of 2014 received $1,200 after all expenses were paid. In addition, six scholarships worth $500 each were awarded to six girls on the team that went on to college.
They will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on Monday against Southington at Southington High School. Pina is hoping that they get a lot of support to show these girls and those running the program that their hard work has been noticed.
“Our hope is that we get support at Southington. We’ve been very successful over the years and everyone in the program is a volunteer, including the coaches. We have all been committed to this for the past six years and it truly is an exceptional volunteer program that directly impacts the youth of New Britain.”