Fun Fact: Women have been playing football for more than 60 years. *mind blown* Yup, the first women’s tackle leagues started in the 1960s and the first organized flag league started just ten years later.
Despite such a deep history with the sport (and until recently), girls and football often brought to mind visions of lighthearted powderpuff games. But not anymore.
Nowadays it’s all business. Girls as young as four are lacing up their cleats to bring serious competition to the (flag) football field. "With more and more girls participating in flag football, my girls team realized that this is an every person's sport and not just a male game", recounts Gridiron Operator, Rodney Brown. "Flag football has brought my all-girls team to the championship and created life long friendships."
And high schools, colleges and professional athletic programs are taking notice.
“It’s been one of our fastest-growing sports,” says Jeremy Hernandez, assistant director of officials and flag football sports administration for the Florida High School Athletic Association. “I believe a lot of our female athletes are already entrenched in that football culture, and just being able to play it themselves and show that females can be successful in that sport is probably one of the biggest factors.”
Alongside Florida, eight other states have approved girls flag football as a high school varsity sport– Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New York, Arkansas, Alabama and California.
And they’re not alone. Flag football is now a sponsored varsity sport at 15 colleges in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
All of this with the growing support of organizations like the NFL and companies like Nike. In fact, they’ve partnered together to donate $5 million in product to grow girls flag football in high school athletics across the country. And NFL teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars are joining the effort by hosting girls flag football camps and funding scholarships for high school female football athletes pursuing higher education: "It has been great to watch the upward trajectory of girls playing football in our region as there are more youth and high school athletes participating and growing the sport every day," said Whitney Meyer, Jaguars Senior Vice President and Chief Community Impact Officer.
Women's Flag Football on the World's Stage
Last year saw women's flag football enjoy its international debut at The World Games, a multi-sport event held in Birmingham, Alabama. Team USA reached the finals before being edged out by Mexico (did you catch Diana Flores, Mexico's flag football quarterback in this year’s NFL Super Bowl commercial?).
And with continued backing by organizations like the NFL and Gridiron Football, talks are underway to include women’s flag football in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
In short, girls flag football is here to stay. So if your daughter's thinking about a season on the Gridiron, here's some encouragement from Angellica Grayson, former college flag football coach and current Manager of Football Development for the Los Angeles Chargers: "Find out what you want to do and go out of your comfort zone to try."
Gridiron Football offers co-ed and all-girls teams across the country. Our local operators and coaches will work alongside your daughter to help her achieve her goals, whether she’s dreaming of Olympic Gold or looking to try a new sport. Find your local league and register your daughter today!