Toronto quarterback says lingerie league is 'empowering'

Toronto Triumph quarterback Donna Paul played a variety of contact sports before joining the Lingerie Football League.  - JOE PETRO PHOTO / LFL
Toronto Triumph quarterback Donna Paul played a variety of contact sports before joining the Lingerie Football League.
— image credit: JOE PETRO PHOTO / LFL

Donna Paul says she’s an average Canadian. She’s 5’3”, she’s married and she’s an elementary school teacher.

She’s also the quarterback for the Toronto Triumph of the Lingerie Football League.

The question many people ask her is why?

Paul grew up playing ice hockey and is used to contact sports. She has played touch, flag and contact football.

When a newspaper ad regarding the new LFL team coming to Toronto caught her eye, Paul decided to investigate.

“My idea was just to go to the tryout and see what it’s all about, see if it’s the real deal. See if these girls who also show up are athletes or just a bunch of girls looking for their 15 minutes of fame.”

It was some of both.

But she saw enough to convince her to commit.

“This is tackle football at its finest, just wearing a little less equipment than people are used to watching.”

She said there are some other tackle football leagues for women, but they don’t have the allure of the LFL.

“I’ve been working out, training, for years. I take pride in my athletic physique. I think the female body, as well as male athletes, they’re just like pieces of art. And to be able to display that in a physical nature on a field in front of fans is a pretty empowering experience.”

She has the full support of her husband and her parents, who come out to watch her play.

As a member of the Toronto Triumph, Paul was on hand when the team went through some initial turmoil.

After the first game of the inaugural season, a total of 20 players cut ties with the squad, voicing concerns regarding safety and inadequate equipment.

“I would beg to question their safety concerns because we all signed up to play tackle football. We all Googled stuff before playing.

“For people to question safety concerns after five months of gruelling on the field and all that kind of stuff, I think there were more things behind the scenes that they were unhappy with.”

But even if she didn’t agree with them, she still missed her teammates.

“We were a team from the beginning. I cared about the girls and we worked hard for four or five months together. It was hard.”

As for the threat of injury, Paul said she did hurt her knee in her inaugural season. However, she said it could have as easily happened if she played soccer or basketball.

She called the sport “controlled violence,” and said it’s safer than playing rugby, where no pads are worn.

As for the uniforms, Paul said they are not as skimpy as some might think.

“Could you really call it lingerie? I think it’s more of a marketing scheme.”

She believes a large percentage of first-time fans come to see the outfits, but eventually start watching the football.

“If I can change the minds of a handful of fans, then mission accomplished.”

Paul said when fans hear the league name, many imagine a “Victoria Secret model running around with a football.” But she said that isn’t the case.

“There are different body types throughout this league. There are some ridiculously tall, solid women.”

Paul said she has no other aspirations, but many women get opportunities from the LFL for modelling, commercials and even TV shows.

“It’s kind of an added bonus.”

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