Liz Panucci’s passion for the Miami Dolphins was born in the basement of her childhood home in Kelowna, BC.
Playing Strat-o-matic Football (a board game forerunner to today’s EA Madden) with her brother, she became familiar with strategies and players. She had the most success using the Dolphins and Dan Marino’s legendary passing skills.
Yet it wasn’t until Panucci attended her first NFL game (a 16-0 Bears victory over the Dolphins in Miami during the 2010 season) that she realized how many other women shared her passion.
“I looked around during the tailgate and during the game and I was amazed how many women were in the crowd, deeply involved in the game,” said Panucci. “These women weren’t there just to be with a guy. They were there to really watch, and to talk about the Dolphins. It was amazing.”
The experience inspired NFLFemale.com, which Panucci created in 2011 as a place for women to talk football.
“I wanted to recreate that feeling I had in Miami – a sisterhood of female NFL fans sharing their passion for football.”
Today this sisterhood includes women representing all 32 NFL teams, and ranging from 22 to 60 years of age http://www.nflfemale.com/
In one recent post called ‘Past, Present, Future’ , for instance, the sisterhood’s Falcons reporter Shelley Manning recounts that one of her favourite fan moments was the arrival of the flashy Deion Sanders in Atlanta ‘Neon Deion’ brought a new enthusiasm to the team and as a fan, I loved it.‘
“The very first article I ask them to write is about how they became a fan and why,” said Panucci, “I also encourage them to be personal in their writing. Their unique voices and perspectives are what makes our NFL content different.”
Panucci, who still lives in Kelowna, edits and posts the content throughout the year.
“The writers like that I am Canadian, because they think that makes me impartial,” joked Panucci. “I don’t tell them about my soft spot for the Dolphins right away.”
Canadian women like Panucci have fuelled a 152% increase in NFL women’s apparel sales since 2012. And according to the NFL International Fan Engagement Tracker, the league’s avid female fan base has grown 28% in the past two years and has more than doubled since 2009.
The top selling jerseys for women in Canada belong to Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and Troy Polamalu.
Beginning this Fall the NFL will be offering this surging component of its fan base an entirely new, fashion forward apparel line just for women. Participating partners will include Nike, New Era and VF Imagewear.
Aliya-Jasmine Sovani, Host of MTV Canada’s popular Play with AJ http://www.mtv.ca/playwithaj/clips/ and a member of the sisterhood of NFL fans, will serve as the face of the new apparel line in Canada.
The ‘Fashionably Fierce’ photo gallery on NFL.com http://www.nfl.com/photos/0ap1000000232538: