California makes flag football a girls’ high school sport

California approved a system Friday to make flag football a girls’ significant college sport amid soaring acceptance of the sport and a drive to get additional woman athletes on the discipline.

The shift by the California Interscholastic Federation — the statewide human body that governs high college athletics — helps make flag soccer an formal sport for ladies in the nation’s most populous state for the future 2023-24 year. The plan was approved unanimously by the organization’s federated council in Long Beach, claimed Rebecca Brutlag, an agency spokesperson.

Paula Hart Rodas, president-elect of the CIF Southern Section’s council, said the objective is to get much more women associated in high university athletics and tap into a prevalent love of soccer by several who are loath to perform tackle. Southern California educational institutions spanning from Very long Seaside to Corona are hoping to start teams in the drop and the approval allows districts to add the sport to their budgets, Hart Rodas said.

“You can love the match of soccer and not adore finding tackled but still want to take part,” Hart Rodas stated. “Flag suitable now is aimed directly at acquiring much more women included in athletics by adding a distinctive activity that we know girls throughout the region are fascinated in, but not keen to enjoy deal with for a assortment of good reasons.”

The transfer adds California to a developing listing of states that have provided girls’ flag football in higher university athletic plans, these types of as Alabama and Nevada. New York state’s public higher school athletic association took a similar step this week and expects to host the first point out championship for girls flag football in the spring of 2024.

The vote in California comes amid a surge in desire in flag soccer between young players in leisure leagues and burgeoning guidance from the NFL and groups such as the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, which have been running a pilot significant school league for ladies in Southern California.

Scores of faculties signed up to take part in the pilot and these chosen to do so — and the eager youthful gamers who played in it — have extensively been viewed as pioneers in the sport.

Paul Schmidt stated currently being aspect of a start off-up has been enjoyable for his 14-yr-previous daughter, who had hardly ever played flag football in advance of she tried out out for the team at Redondo Union Significant College, one particular of the universities collaborating in the league. Earning the activity formal should make it easier to protected area time, he said, and presents a improve to a tight-knit workforce of girls that has bonded around commencing a thing new.

“She enjoys it, enjoys it. It’s exciting to be in a new activity,” he said.

Rising fascination in flag football — in which no just one will get tackled and a participate in finishes when an opposing participant pulls a flag from a belt about the ball-carrier’s waist — comes amid problem about the hazard of concussions and other accidents from deal with soccer.

In the ten years major up to 2018-19, the number of ladies playing flag football in U.S. large colleges doubled to 11,000, according to the National Federation of Point out Higher College Associations.

Without the CIF’s approval, California superior educational institutions could arrange flag soccer golf equipment. But coaches said allowing official interscholastic competition will very likely push far more colleges to start out groups and develop a pipeline of gamers.

Troy Vincent Sr., the NFL’s government vice president of football operations, wrote in the Sacramento Bee that periods have adjusted given that he performed professional soccer, which again then was “broadly viewed as a man’s sport.” He said higher faculty players could be ready to perform into higher education and beyond as universities have also ramped up the sport.

Vincent is also pushing to get flag soccer extra to 2028 Olympic Video games in Los Angeles.

“This is no for a longer period just a yard sport for girls’ pickup games for the duration of family getaway gatherings,” he mentioned.

Francis McGee

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