It’s official. Girls’ flag football is Alabama’s newest sanctioned high school sport.
The announcement was made last week at the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) 13th Annual Principals’ and Athletic Directors’ Conference. Helping pave the way for the new sport is a partnership between the Atlanta Falcons, NFL FLAG and AHSAA.
The new sport will be available for member schools beginning in the fall. The season will culminate in December with a championship game at the 2021 Super 7 State High School Football Championships in Birmingham. That’s right. The first state girls’ high school flag football champion will be crowned at the newly christened Protective Stadium.
“After discussions with the Atlanta Falcons for several months, we are excited to be adding this girls’ sport for our membership. We think it will grow rapidly,” said Associate Executive Director Alvin Briggs, who oversees the sport of football for the AHSAA. “The AHSAA appreciates the support, commitment and funding being provided by the Atlanta Falcons, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and NFL FLAG.”
In addition to the Atlanta Falcons and the Blank Family Foundation monetary support, NIKE will provide girls flag apparel to assist the AHSAA with launching girls’ flag football throughout the state.
Atlanta Falcons Started Flag Football in Georgia
The Atlanta Falcons are playing a key role in the growth of girls’ flag football nationally. In 2018,in response to the alarming low number of girls’ sports offered in Georgia, the Falcons and the Blank Family Foundation approached Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest county in Georgia, to pilot and fully fund a girls’ high school flag football program. As a result, hundreds of girls tried out in the first year bringing the attention of other schools to the program in 2019. Last fall, Georgia became one of only four states (Alaska, Nevada and Florida) to make girls’ high school flag football an official sanctioned sport.
Following the success of the 2020 season, the Falcons participated in discussions with additional states, beginning with Alabama, to help fund high school girls’ flag football. Many other NFL teams have also started conversations in their markets to begin girls’ flag football, using the Atlanta Falcons model as a best practice.
“We are thrilled to see girls’ flag football continue to expand outside of Georgia. The goal has always been to grow the game,” says Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay. “The need and desire for more girls’ programming is there, and we are really excited the Alabama High School Athletic Association has agreed to add the sport and can now give young women more opportunities to play sports in high school. We look forward to seeing how far and wide we can expand the game of girls’ flag football together.”
NFL FLAG has been leading the charge to help expand women’s flag football across the U.S. at the youth, high school, and collegiate levels. NFL FLAG will work as a strategic partner with the Falcons, AHSAA, and Nike to lead coaching clinics, develop competition guidelines, and establish a framework for high schools interested in instituting girls’ flag football in Alabama.
“I am especially proud to help bring girls’ flag football to my home state of Alabama. I’m grateful to be in a position that creates more opportunities for youth athletes to participate in football,” said NFL FLAG Executive Director Izell Reese, a native Alabamian who attended Northview High School of Dothan.
The World Games 2022
Seven months after Alabama’s inaugural girls’ state high school championship, sports fans from all over the world will get a chance to see the best flag football teams on planet Earth when the Magic City hosts The World Games in July 2022. Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete at Legion Field for the gold.
Also with the backing of the NFL, flag football will undoubtedly be one of the breakout sports featured at the games.