81ºF

Orlando Anarchy looks to claim national title Friday

All-women's football team tackles adversity head-on

ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Central Florida football team wasn't the only pigskin-throwing team to have a turnaround season in recent years.

Joining the Knights is another Orlando team, with a small difference found on the field. The Orlando Anarchy aren't college athletes, but rather professional women football players.

With 30 players on the team who pay to play and a volunteer coach at the helm, the Anarchy are heading to Pittsburgh to play in the Women's Football Alliance Championship Game Friday at noon. 

But the players aren't just playing for a title. They're also playing to honor those who died in the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting and for little girls everywhere who have a dream of playing professional football.

“Right after the Pulse tragedy occurred, we spent a lot of time in the hospital with Paula (Blanco)," head coach Tony Chaves said. "Stuff like that, as a group, as a team, it became quite obvious that the kids were galvanized and rather than have them check out with the trauma and everything else, we just decided to get to work right away. They decided that they were gonna have a mission, they were gonna have a purpose … It’s turned into this.”

But the players also said they are playing for former assistant coach and Pulse victim Cory Connell, his girlfriend Paula -- who is still recovering from injuries sustained in the shooting -- and Jahqui Sevilla, who died May in a car crash.

“It’s been an incredible ride," Chaves said. "The kids are stoked. The kids are ready and they’ve been working hard. They’ve been working hard for 10 or 11 months straight."