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First lingerie football team tryouts held at Sportstown

Players won't get paid, founder and coaches will

The founder of the Lingerie Football League (LFL) is looking at Friday's Richmond tryout as a chance to showcase his entire concept and not just the scantily-clad athletes who want to play in it.

The B.C. Angels holds its first tryouts in Sportstown Sports Complex on No. 5 Road from 6 to 8 p.m.

The controversial football league, which will play in the Lower Mainland out of Abbotsford, features seven women a side in shoulder pads, knee pads, hockey-style helmets - and lingerie.

League founder Mitchell Mortaza, will be in Richmond, and says that coaches as well as players will be interviewed. But he acknowledges that what's really under review is the league itself.

"There are a lot of misconceptions and misinformation about what this is, but Friday night is really the first time we get to tell our side of the story and people see how seriously we take the football," he said. "And that it's not just sold on sex appeal and some of the other things that have been written."

The league will have a hard time changing the mind of critics like Andrea Carlson of Vancouver Status of Women, a long-established feminist non-profit organization that does outreach.

"I don't agree with it," said Carlson. "I think it is sexist and I'm disappointed one is coming to the area."

Her group isn't currently planning on taking any unilateral action against the league.

North Vancouver's Kate Marshall will be among the players trying out, although she has developed some reservations.

"Now that I've learned you're not getting paid in the league, I wonder what the level of commitment is," said the 23-year-old Monday.

But Marshall is still interested in the LFL.

"Trying out can't hurt," said the all-around athlete, who was the captain of her high school rugby team and also played soccer, basketball, volleyball and flag football.

"Depending on if I make the team or not, that's when I'm going to step back and really decide whether I want to play on the team or not," she said.

Marshall is not overly concerned about the controversial side of the league. "All my friends are really supportive. They think it's pretty hilarious."

While players are unpaid, Mortaza said coaches will get a paycheque. "The time requirement on them is quite a bit more than players," he said.

Players will be selected after going through agility and football drills at Friday's Open Tryout Football Combine that will include tests such as a 40-yard dash, receiving, tackling and passing.

Forty will be picked and move on to the Angels' mini-camp in May, from which 30 will be selected for the training camp in June. Just 20 players will be selected for the final roster,

The inaugural game of the Canadian league will be in Abbotsford Aug. 25 between the Angels and the Regina Rage.

For more stories, visit www.theprovince. com.