Girls’ flag football is a growing sport and the Edmonton Metro League held its first girls’ tournament on Saturday.
The tournament in Sturgeon County featured six all-girl teams. The league has 15 girls’ teams from Edmonton and the surrounding area.
“We just started up in 2018 and then in 2019 we had really great competition, a really strong league. Then COVID hit and kind of took this league away, unfortunately,” said Kerri Meadows, the athletic director at Sturgeon Composite High School.
“Now we’re slowly starting to get back to the excitement again. You can see it with all the fans here, you can see it with all the teams.”
The team at Sturgeon Composite was one of the nine original teams in the league. Now that team sports are gearing up again, schools have been encouraging students to try out new experiences, like flag football, according to Meadows.
“Football is not something that girls just step naturally into and it’s been really fun to see some great athletes come out and start playing the sport,” said Meadows.
The game has been an eye-opening experience for some players.
“Flag is a really good sport for multi-sport athletes. It’s a good way to keep in shape and train your agility, hand-eye co-ordination and get yourself ready and stay fit for your other sports,” said Kaislyn Currie, a player at Sturgeon Composite High School.
“When I started I was just playing for fun, to fill my time, but now I think I might pursue it. It’s super fun, some of the teams are super intense and I got to meet so many nice people,” said Mikayla Gibbon, a Grade 12 student at Strathcona High School.
Gibbon was able to compete in the national competition with her team over the summer and called it an “amazing experience.”
“With the rise of high school football in Edmonton itself, that kind of led naturally for girls to want to be involved in the sport,” said Meadows.
“Edmonton is lucky enough to have a semi-professional women’s tackle team and they’ve slowly started to add high school tackle girls’ football and we’re seeing community programs for girls, but on the flag side or the touch side, outside of the Edmonton Touch Football Association, there really isn’t much for high school kids.
“This was a great way to get girls into the sport and have them learn what it takes to be a ‘football player’ and get that sense of belonging to a team of this nature.”
The high school flag football season lasts from September to November and can be an intense commitment, according to players.
“It’s a pretty short season, but it’s a lot of work in that short time,” said Currie. “We have flag… three, four days a week and it’s a couple hours every day.”
The top girls’ flag football team in the Edmonton Metro League usually represents Team Alberta at the Canada Summer Games, added Meadows.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Marek Tkach