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NFL makes strong push for flag football with eye on Olympics

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Flag football will probably be played at a global, multi-sport event for the primary time next week throughout the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama.

The NFL could be the sport’s biggest cheerleader.

“Once we talk in regards to the way forward for the sport of football, it’s, no doubt, flag,” NFL executive Troy Vincent told The Associated Press. “Once I’ve been asked over the past 24 months, specifically, what does the following 100 years appear to be if you take a look at football, not skilled football, it’s flag. It is the inclusion and the true motto of ‘football for all.’ There may be a spot in flag football for all.”

Vincent points to the growing variety of men and girls playing flag football globally. He’s encouraged that six states — Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Recent York — have sanctioned flag football as a varsity sport in highschool with 20 more states interested or within the means of piloting to get it sanctioned.

Multiple NFL clubs support high schools of their respective states with helping fund the initiative. The Atlanta Falcons unveiled a girls flag wall of their stadium in May. The league says 450 schools, and greater than 10,000 girls take part in flag football across the country.

It was a crucial step when the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics declared women’s flag football as an emerging sport in 2020. The National Junior College Athletic Association did the identical.

“It’s an economical sport feasible for all to play,” Vincent said.

The NFL partnered with the International Federation of American Football to bring flag football to The World Games with a watch on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

“That is the last word goal to make flag football an Olympic sport,” Vincent said.

Sixteen of the world’s best flag football teams will compete for gold for the primary time at The World Games kicking off Sunday at Birmingham’s historic Legion Field. Flag football is certainly one of 33 sports in this system on the Olympic-style, multi-sport event, following its inclusion by the International World Games Association in 2020.

“We’re thrilled to have flag football join the official sports program at The World Games for the primary time,” IFAF president Pierre Trochet said in an announcement. “It is a milestone in the game’s development and a implausible opportunity to showcase flag as a really world-class, international sport.”

The World Games are back in the US for the primary time since 1981. The USA men’s and girls’s teams each pre-qualified for the tournament by winning gold on the 2021 IFAF Flag World Championships held in Jerusalem last December. A record 39 national teams across 4 continents competed. The remaining 14 teams earned their place through IFAF’s international qualifying process.

Austria, France, Italy, Mexico and Panama also qualified men’s and girls’s teams. Denmark and Germany have the remaining men’s teams. Brazil and Japan have the opposite two women’s teams.

“This isn’t something that we dominate since it’s football, the national pastime in America,” Vincent said. “You watch these young men and women play in other countries. They arrive to play. It is a transitional sport. It is a cross-functional sport. The very best flag players come from soccer, lacrosse, cricket because these are men and girls who’ve tremendous agility. It is a fast-paced game played in space. You haven’t got to play it for years and years. You may develop. You may transfer those skills that you just learned in soccer, lacrosse, cricket to flag football.”

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