Columbus Rapids blazing a trail for women’s professional soccer


Columbus, Ga (WRBL) – The soccer turn is down at the Columbus Civic Center. This is the stage for some soccer history, because for the first time in the country the National Indoor Soccer League will have a professional women’s league. Columbus is part of that new soccer movement. Players like Ariel Jones, a Phenix City native, couldn’t wait to be part of it.

“I grew up in Alabama, and I was always in Columbus. As soon as I heard that we’re getting a pro indoor team. I showed my dad and I was like I have to do it. There’s no way I couldn’t be a part of it,” said Jones.
Now typically in this part of the country, American football is usually the most popular sport. The Rapids believe the pace this game can turn some heads and get fans excited.

“So I know that some people are like ‘oh soccer is slow’ No. You’re ain’t going to get that here in the Civic Center. There’s going to be a lot of goals. There’s going to be a lot cheeky plays. Really a lot of creativity. So I think it’s going to be really fun, not only for the players but for the fans,” said Brittney Conway, who has worked at Fort Benning for the past 5 years. Conway works a performance psychology consultant at Fort Benning.

“It’s a really fun, exciting game to watch. It’s going to be a lot quicker. There’s going to be more goals. This more American style will do well here,” said former Columbus State player Shevah Rizaee.

These ladies also understand that being a local professional athlete makes soccer way more accessible to their fans.

“Growing up it was really hard to find professional women’s teams to look up to. And it would be certain times on the TV schedule. To have that at a local level. I’m just really proud to part of that,” said Conway.

“To be part of inaugural team. We just hope to respect the jersey and respect the sacrifices made to put us here. We really respect the game and each other. So we’re excited,” said Rizaee.

No matter what their overall record will be, the Rapids players say this kind of representation is essential for the future of their sport and the women in Columbus.

“It’s some of the most important things you can show young girls that we matter. We mean a lot to the community just as much as the boys do. We can bring out the same crowds. We can bring out the same kinds of fans,” said Rizaee.

The Columbus Rapids kick off their season on the road against the Memphis Americans on Sunday, December 26th. Columbus’ first home game is on December 30th. The women kick off their game at 5:30 pm and the men follow up at 7:30 pm

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