Past the End Zone: Flag Football Provides Recipe for Success Abroad

By John Flannery | Posted 7/12/2021

Though Brixton, London is across the pond, the sheer distance hasn’t stopped a local, Black-led charity from embracing and loving American football for the good of their community’s young people.

The BIGKID Foundation’s Flag Football program is one way many young adults are returning to physical activity after fighting through a tumultuous year. A component of BIGKID’s larger Breaking Barriers Leadership Program, the program started with merely 25 athletes across two boroughs of London.

Now, almost a year and a half later, over 100 athletes from six different boroughs are playing in the BIGKID’s flag sessions. Not only do they provide a flag football league for kids, but they also provide mentoring and other types of support for their athletes. By doing this, those students that felt as if they didn’t belong now have an avenue to express themselves and compete with others.

BIGKID Foundation Founder and Chief Executive Shaninga Marasha told “It’s become a truism that, in many ways, children and young people have suffered most during the pandemic – and particularly during lockdown. As we ‘build back better’ after the pandemic we must make sure that we provide every child and young person with the chance to take part – a full part – in school life and in social and sporting events with their friends.”

Football does so much more for a kid that gets them out of the house and active for a few hours a week. Football allows them to use their social skills and work on their overall mental and physical health while having fun.

“After coming to our football flag sessions, a lot of our young people felt more confident and more confident about managing their mental health,” said BIGKIDS outreach office Jonathan Cobham. “Flag football teaches young people about teamwork, leadership, fitness and communication skills. It is a great sport and it’s a shame that in many ways it’s a hidden gem as many young people don’t know about it.”

This initiative has not only inspired many to pick up a football for the first time, but it also has yielded pretty astounding results. Compared to their classmates, BIGKIDS’ Flag Football participants were 40 percent more likely to report at least one hour’s non-school physical activity per day than non-participants and reported having spent 76 percent more time engaged in physical activity.   

This goes to show that not only is football a great way to get kids active and involved, but it also provides a safe space for them to enjoy life and all that comes with being a kid. Football provides an avenue to be active and take part in something bigger than themselves.

Recovering from this pandemic will be one of the most arduous tasks our world goes through. Therefore, creating avenues for children to stay active and involved is one of the most important things. And what better way to do that than through the ultimate team sport.


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