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by Jeff Collaso
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“Full Contact” follows the smash-mouth first season of the Women’s Professional Football team the Long Beach Aftershock. In a time when women’s sports are not just accepted but celebrated, women’s football is barely on the radar. Is it because we feel that it is too hard to watch our delicate flowers participate in a sport so widely revered for its brutality? How would you feel about your daughter / wife / mother being sent across the middle with a linebacker waiting to greet her?

The journey begins at the start of a new season with a new head coach. The Aftershock are a band of women so diverse that it is sometimes hard to see why they would want to play football at all, until you hear them speak. They are not a rag-tag bunch at all and their collective voice shows this as it carries a passion for the game, a desire to learn and improve, and yet a need to be heard and respected.

The team is lead by a stellar quarterback in Mary Margaret. She has grown up with the game, understands its intricacies, and can hang tougher in the pocket then some of her professional male counterparts. And one more thing, she can air it out, which clashes with her coach’s conservative approach of having a dominant running game. Juice, Kelley & A-Train are the team’s running backs. They are full of talent and their play helps bolster Coach’s determination to run the football. But most players are learning as they go, including the coach. He is a former football player whose days on the field were cut short due to injury. Though his playing days are over, his love for the game never ends. His toughness is only out measured by his desire to stay connected to the game by passing on his knowledge of football and his passion to win.

Sounds like the same type of problems found on any professional football team, right? But with the Aftershock, the expectations that come with being a professional athlete collide with the expectations of dealing with people from the opposite sex. But this feature-length documentary is not a generalized examination of historical sports disparities. Here you will see real women go through all of the challenges of trying to put together a successful football team. Like the forefathers of today’s gridiron heroes, they do not play for money or fame. Most of them have regular jobs and just play for the pure joy of the sport. But unlike those forefathers, this squad is challenged by traditional football mentality itself, personified by a new coach, Craig Henderson. His no-nonsense style immediately clashes with the sensibility of some of the players. That conflict epitomizes the struggle between male-dominated sports and female athletes. Drama does not get higher than real sports conflict. “Full Contact” shows how that is the easy part of being first in a sport.

 

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