Growing up as a so-called “tomboy,” I loved everything football, from catching in my backyard with my dad to watching NFL football games every Sunday on TV. When I was in middle school, my parents found out about a co-ed flag football league in my community. I could not wait to join. However, on day one I found myself surrounded by thirty boys and only one other girl. I was a little intimidated at first, but week by week I became more comfortable and grew to love it.
A lot of parents and young girls themselves are unsure whether or not they should participate in flag football. However, flag football is a great option for young girls.
Here are the top three reasons girls should play flag football:
Flag football is a great confidence booster for young girls. In the Pittsburgh Flag Football League or PFFL, girls are able to compete against and interact with other girls and boys of various ages, which helps build their self-esteem and social skills.
Young girls can gain confidence in their ability to compete with boys. At a young age, girls may fall victim to the stereotype that boys are tougher and stronger than girls. However, in flag football, everyone has an equal shot. Each girl gets a chance to make a play or get involved. No longer is football just “for the boys.”
Flag football also gives girls the opportunity to become a leader. Every team needs someone that can bring everyone together and set an example. In flag football, girls can break out of their shells and lead a team, some for the first time in their lives.
Flag football teaches girls an important basic motor skill – hand-eye coordination. Girls learn this skill when catching the ball on offense or intercepting the ball on defense. They also develop improved hand-eye coordination in the name of the game – the difficult task of trying to pull an opponent’s flag.
Flag football teaches girls agility, a crucial aspect of any sport. Girls acquire agility on offense as running backs, making quick cutbacks to shake their defenders, or as wide receivers running square-in and post routes. On defense, they learn the job of cornerbacks, running to stay with wide receivers, cutting and changing speeds as they do – all parts of agility.
Other vital skills flag football teaches girls are sportsmanship and teamwork. They are taught the value of sportsmanship by shaking hands after games, showing they are neither sore losers nor sore winners. By taking part in co-ed team play at PFFL, they learn to not to have attitudes because their teammate is a boy or vice versa. Flag football provides girls group and one-on-one peer communication, allowing them to interact and be part of a team. They learn to cheer each other on, treat each other equally, and most importantly to lose or win as a team, not as individuals.
Flag football is a great source of exercise for young girls. Players may go from jogging to running to sprinting all in one play of a game. It is one of few sports that uses the entire body at once. It works several different muscle groups in players’ arms and legs, depending on the type of offensive or defensive movements being made.
Another area of the body flag football works is the heart and lungs. Playing flag football strengthens the cardiovascular systems of young girls, reducing the risk of high blood pressure. By participating, girls can also help to prevent obesity, the number one threat to children.
The risk of injury is significantly lower in flag football because there is no contact, unlike other sports. This “no contact” aspect of flag football is perfect for younger girls who want to play sports but are afraid of the possibility of rough contact.
Flag football helps girls develop a fitness routine at an early age. It teaches them the importance of getting exercise and staying fit, a lesson that they can carry on throughout life.
Playing flag football benefits the health, social skills, and athletic abilities of young girls. Girls will not only enjoy playing but will learn the knowledge of the game of football. Across the country, more and more girls are participating in flag football. At the older level, high schools are even petitioning to make flag football a school sport for girls. Let your girls try a new sport and be a part of a fun and energetic environment!