Flag football: The future is female

WALPOLE, Mass. — They throw like Brady, run routes like Edelman, and catch like Gronk, but this isn’t tackle football, but flag, and the future is female.

“I used to play quarterback but I play why receiver because I have good hand-eye coordination,” said sixth-grader Giuliana Oh.

Seventy girls from kindergarten to seventh grade attended a clinic in Walpole organized by Patriot Flag Football, the Norfolk county organization partnered with the NFL.

“The focus here with the NFL is to start them now so as they start to grow,” said organization president Greg Campbell. “It will be a lot of excitement and momentum as they get to high school.”

But the problem is right now no Massachusetts high schools and only very few colleges offer it.

“I think they definitely have flag football,” said 3rd grader Etta McPhee. “If you love football but you don’t feel like you’re ready to play tackle and be in that position where you could be shoved around, I feel like flag football is a sport you can play, get in the mix where it’s not too dirty and it’s not too painful.”

Not only is it the fastest-growing high school varsity sport, but more than a dozen colleges are even offering scholarships, but now the push from so many girls is to have enough support to start offering it in Massachusetts high schools. There are leagues for girls, but only up until eighth grade.  The hope is that changes soon.

“There are eight states and have it as a sanctioned sport already but with backings from the NFL and Nike there are a lot more sanctions from states that are coming on board next year,” said Campbell.

“It’s pretty frustrating because I’ve talked about it with my parents and they’re telling me I have to pick another sport because right now I can’t play it in upper-level sports like varsity high school and college,” said Oh.

NAIA just finished its first season of scholarship female college flag football and as the sport continues growing, getting all of these girls sports scholarships will be the next step.

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