Story first appeared on nyjetsinuk.com
The offseason is a time for many intriguing storylines and one has me both interested and delighted in equal measure. Two NFL teams, the New York Jets and the Chicago Bears, will be running a girls flag football league in London throughout this spring.
NFL UK has already enjoyed tremendous success with their Flag Football program as 476 schools are participating in the non-contact version of American football. More than 28,000 primary and secondary school boys and girls are now playing flag football across 26 regions of the United Kingdom.
And now, the Jets and Bears are committed to growing the sport of American football in the UK, running a 12-team tournament of West London schools featuring girls aged 12 to 14. And while this will be a fun and rewarding experience for all involved, bragging rights will also be at stake; the league will be split into two conferences with six teams representing the Jets and six, the Bears.
I love watching young children playing flag football. It is a great entry point for the sport and one my own son, George, took by playing for the Kent Exiles when he was 13 years old. He went from playing quarterback in flag to the kitted version of the game; representing Great Britain and going on to play for the NFL Academy, which helped him win a sports scholarship [BD1] to the University of Ottawa in Canada.
Every year, I attend the NFL’s Flag Championship and find the whole event to be thoroughly enjoyable and a great way to bring new fans to the sport we all love. The winners of last summer’s tournament – Little Ealing Primary School – went on to represent the UK at the Pro Bowl Games in Las Vegas. But every child and every team seemed to have fun, even though there could be just one champion to emerge from Loughborough.
And now, thanks to the Jets and Bears, more girls are going to be introduced to playing American football and gain the insights and benefits the sport has to offer. The women’s game is blossoming in this country with the Great Britain national team winning a silver medal at last summer’s world championships. More and more girls playing the sport can only be a good thing at all levels of the game.
Such commitment to Girls Flag is nothing new for the Jets and they should be applauded for their commitment to growing the game on both sides of the Atlantic. The Jets have their own Girls Flag program in New Jersey that was launched in 2021 and has expanded to Long Island and Upstate New York and features more than 100 schools. Additionally, they have sponsored a league in Manhattan that has grown to 62 teams – more than the boys tackle programs.
The Jets and Bears NFL Girls Flag tournament will run from April 17 to May 22 and whoever comes out on top, I know this… everyone who participates is going to have a great deal of fun and will become NFL fans along the way.