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Sharing love of football with women and girls a life-long passion for SFU’s Tiffani Martinez
Tiffani Martinez has turned a random invitation into a life-long passion for football. Now she’s sharing her enthusiasm with girls and women throughout the Lower Mainland.
Martinez is the personable and energetic events coordinator for SFU Athletics and Recreation. She organizes 90+ home sporting events a year. In her spare time, she organizes flag football teams, leagues and skills sessions for women.
Martinez has cultivated a community of females having the time of their lives playing a predominantly male-dominated sport.
In March, Martinez was recognized with an SFU Staff Achievement Award for Athletics. At a time when a sense of community has been impacted by the global pandemic, Martinez has created something special.
It all started when Martinez received an invitation to play coed football. She had never played the game as a youth but Martinez was hooked that first day. In fact, Martinez loved the game so much that she began to recruit her friends.
Martinez and the other players were having so much fun that Martinez decided to create weekly sessions exclusively for women. Word spread, and the community evolved from a handful of women participating to 70 women playing regularly today. And more new players join the 7-aside flag football games every week. All organized by Martinez.
“I’m super inspired by the ages, shapes, and sizes of all the women who participate and they lift me up with their enthusiasm,” said Martinez. “I get so much joy and inspiration watching these women play and have so much fun.”
The sessions often feature mothers and daughters, former high school athletes, newbies and people who just want to give it a try. Everyone is welcome in Martinez’ mission to get as many girls and women playing as she possibly can. In fact, rarely will Martinez have a conversation with a women where she doesn’t mention the opportunity to play football.
“When new players arrive, I like to match them with a veteran mentor to teach them the skills and the game,” says Martinez. “It’s important to create a safe place where women can learn and enjoy the game in a non-threatening environment.”
Football was never Martinez’ first love. She grew up with a basketball in her hands and she was a star high school player. She has coached high school teams at John Oliver Secondary and continues to help mentor the young girls on those teams too. Many of them are recruited to work on her events staff at SFU, helping to stage the varsity games.
During her day job as events coordinator, Martinez brings a roll-up-your-sleeves approach and a can-do attitude, organizing and staging all components of varsity events. During COVID she re-invented the way fans accessed and attended SFU games to create a safe environment. And she has done it in typical Martinez fashion – with a positive attitude and willingness to work hard to achieve success. Traits that have also benefited her women’s flag football community.
SFU’s annual Staff Achievement Awards recognize staff members for their achievements and contributions to the university or the community. The awards are a way to showcase some of the great work being done at SFU and in the community by inspired and outstanding staff members. Read more