Play Football Like a Girl clinic aims to increase gender diversity in football

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By Kevin Perrinton-Turner, Contributing Writer

WESTBOROUGH – A handful of young local girls came to Westborough High School May 16 for the “Play Football Like a Girl Clinic” held by the Westborough Youth Football. 

It was all an effort to welcome more female athletes into the sport of football with a one-day clinic consisting of drills.

“The event was a great success,” said youth coach and organizer Joe Montiverdi. “The girls had a great time and left excited about football.” 

He added, “Our coaches did a great job, and the parents have been very excited and supportive. Coach Abby [Thompson] and Coach Leila [DiTullio] are naturals with the girls.”

Both Thompson and DiTullio are no strangers to football at a young age. 

Thompson played for Westborough Youth Football before taking on the high school gridiron in her freshman and sophomore years. DiTullio played for Westborough Youth Football. 

Led by Thompson and DiTullio, this clinic saw participants work on physical literacy and coordination with each exercise. They used the speed ladder, went through warm-up drills, flag pulling for flag football, and handoffs.

“The goal was to ensure that everyone knows that football is a co-ed sport and to help our female athletes feel welcome on the football field,” Montiverdi said. “Our organization is trying to build a safe, competitive and inclusive program that teaches our young athletes the game we love.”

He continued, “I hope these girls left feeling comfortable and confident enough to feel welcome on the football field. If we help them succeed elsewhere, that’s an added bonus.”

As Thompson and DiTullio are familiar with football, Montiverdi is also particularly familiar with youth sports. Having children of his own who play multiple sports in Westborough allows him to coach and organize events, bringing kids of different genders together for co-ed athletic opportunities. 

“I just try to get out there and be as active with the kids as possible,” Montiverdi said.

Back at Westborough Youth Football, parents, players and coaches are optimistic following last month’s clinic. The response from the event was so swift and positive, they reconvened a week later for another clinic. 

“The reaction to the ‘Play Football Like a Girl’ event has been so overwhelming,” Montiverdi said.

Information about more programs can be found on WYFCRangers.com and by following the Westborough Youth Football & Cheering Facebook page.