Nicole Drouin (right) in action with her Western Women’s Canadian Football League team, the Manitoba Fearless. (Mike Stills photo)

Nicole Drouin (right) in action with her Western Women’s Canadian Football League team, the Manitoba Fearless. (Mike Stills photo)

Chilliwack’s Nicole Drouin going to Finland for football

The Manitoba import and UFV student is proof that women can thrive playing tackle football

The first thing Chilliwack’s Nicole Drouin did after finding out she’d made Canada’s national women’s football team was Facetime her brother. She told him that she was going to Finland to represent her country, and together they cried.

For Nicole it was a dream come true, and no one understood that more than Jeremie Drouin.

He was the reason she started playing football, trying to emulate her older brother. Nicole and Jeremie, who is four years older, bonded through the game, and when she was training for the national ID camp he was at her side.

“He played at the university level and went to the Canadian Football League combine in 2017, and he trained me the last seven months leading up to the ID camp, to the point where I was able to turn around 20 pounds of body fat into muscle,” Nicole said. “He talked to me about what coaches want at a university/national type level. Without him, I don’t think I would have been able to achieve what I’ve achieved.

“Football was the one way we related to each other growing up and he wanted me to succeed.When I told him I made Team Canada, he was so proud.”

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Nicole is now 23, but she first laced ‘em up when she was 12 years old, living in Winnipeg, MB. She signed up for the Manitoba Girls Football Association (MGFA), the first tackle football program in the world created exclusively for girls.

She spent five years in the MGFA and graduated to the Western Women’s Canadian Football League (WWCFL), a league with teams in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. When she moved to Chilliwack to take classes at the University of the Fraser Valley, she was disappointed to find the province completely lacking opportunities for female football.

Because she couldn’t fathom a life without it, she returned to Manitoba on spring/summer breaks to rejoin her WWCFL team, the Manitoba Fearless.

“Football means the world to me. It was my first love,” she said. “It is the purest form of happiness I’ve ever felt. Just stepping onto the field, whether it’s for a practice or game, it always brings a smile to my face and gets me hyped up.”

Finland promises to be an amazing adventure.

Nicole and Team Canada will be in an eight-team field along with the hosts, Great Britain, Australia, Sweden, Japan, Germany, Mexico and the United States.

“The news that I made the roster was a lot. It hit me like a pickup truck,” she said. “Ever since I found out this tournament exists, it lit a fire in my heart, and I wanted to be a part of representing Canada on the national stage. It still doesn’t feel real, but I am so ready to put that Canada jersey on and get to work.”

The tourney runs July 27 to Aug. 8.

After that, her football future is more uncertain.

Nicole is nearing the end of her university days. She’ll graduate soon with a major in accounting, and entering the work world will hinder her ability to fly back to Manitoba for football. That’s why she’s now looking into starting something in B.C.

Nicole has connected with Katie Miyazaki with the B.C. Provincial Football Association, and they’ve discussed introducing more opportunities for girls to play football.

“When I started in the MGFA, there were three teams and around 40 girls, and just before COVID that had grown to five teams and about 90 players, so I believe there’s a hunger for this across the board,” she said. “Girls want to try football, and they just don’t have the opportunities right now.

“But I do believe the old way of thinking that girls are more delicate is starting to be phased out, and girls football is pushing forward the boundaries where they are allowed to be aggressive and show passion on the field. They are able to train their bodies to take hits and make hits.

“I believe something like the MGFA could work in B.C. and provide opportunities to introduce girls to the sport, and I’d like to be an example to them about what they can achieve through football.”

– Getting to Finland isn’t cheap and Nicole is trying to pay for the trip. Anyone who wants to sponsor her can email nicoledrouin44@gmail.com and she can also be found on Instagram at @nicoledrouin_

To sponsor Drouin through Football Canada, email jgeisler@footballcanada.com


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@hopestandard.com

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