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Fort Smith woman plays for Canada in football world championship

Team Canada lines up on IFAF World Championship Game Day 1 in Vantaa, Finland to play Team Australia. Photo: Tero Terunen

Betsy Mawdsley, born and raised in Fort Smith, played for Team Canada at this month’s Women’s International Federation of American Football World Championship in Finland.

Canada finished fourth after losing 19-17 to Finland in the bronze-medal game, when a last-minute field goal handed Finland the win. Mawdsley was the only NWT player in the event, which ran from July 28 to August 7.

“There’s a lot of reflecting now,” said Mawdsley, “to say, ‘How do we do this differently in the future?’

“The reality is that Canada usually always wins second, so it was already a tough situation to be in the bronze-medal game – and then Finland played one hell of a game.”



Team Canada scraps for third place against Team Finland at the IFAF World Championships in Vantaa, Finland. Photo: Jari Turunen

She noted that playing the Finns in front of their home crowd, however, was an awesome experience.

“I genuinely believe we had a phenomenal team, and we had the right group of women who could have won the world championship. Unfortunately, that’s just not how it panned out,” she said.

Mawdsley didn’t get her start in football until she moved to Saskatoon to begin her master’s degree in physiotherapy. She credits her success at the sport to growing up in Fort Smith, where she competed in biathlon and a wide variety of other sports.

“The fact that I came from the North is one of the reasons I was able to come to this sport later in life,” said Mawdsley.



“We’re very privileged in the NWT to be set up well to be multi-sport athletes. We grow up playing several sports … that really is the developmental marker of building good athletes.”

A play during the Canada-Finland game. Photo: Tero Terunen

Despite the loss, Mawsdley says she’s looking forward to getting back into her normal football program for the next four years until the world championship comes around again.

Then, she hopes she can make the roster for a second time.

“It was an amazing program that I got to be part of and I can’t even describe how special it was,” she said.

“They only take 45 on the roster, so the other 44 members of the team were some really special people.

“I feel really privileged to be part of it and go there to represent my country.”