The push to provide young girls with the opportunity to play football has never been greater. During the past six months, Arizona and Southern California approved girls’ flag as a high school varsity sport and New York announced an official high school state championship for the sport starting in 2024. Other states that sanction girls’ flag include Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia and Nevada.
USA Football recognizes the potential financial strain on youth football leagues looking to meet the needs of their communities by starting or expanding girls’ flag football programs. Fortunately, USA Football’s Girls’ Flag Grant provides leagues and scholastic programs with the opportunity to receive equipment and additional resources.
The Girls’ Flag Grant application period opens on May 3 and closes June 14. Organizations that apply but don’t receive the Girls’ Flag Grant will still be eligible for a flag equipment grant. League leaders and scholastic administrators interested in learning more about USA Football’s grants can visit usafootball.com.
Ashlea Klam, a member of the 2023 U.S. Women’s Flag National Team and an athlete representative on USA Football’s Board of Directors, is hopeful that organizations will take advantage of opportunities like the Girls’ Flag Grant to expand their programs and offerings for girls.
“This sport gives so many opportunities to young female athletes who want to play football,” Klam said. “I hope that leagues provide these opportunities for girls and add girls’ flag divisions or equivalent pathways for them to be involved.”
Klam, who lives in Texas, began her flag football career participating on co-ed teams and playing up several grade levels with all-girls teams at flag tournaments because there weren’t enough participants in the lower age brackets. Her parents founded the Texas Fury, an all-girls team, to give Klam more opportunities to play with other girls her age.
“It's insane the amount of growth that I have seen in girls’ flag,” said Klam. “I started playing when I was around seven years old, and at the time they were very few girls teams playing. When we first started Texas Fury, our organization had six players. There were no cuts. There were no tryouts. This year we held a Fury camp and 90 girls came out. Sixty girls came to our tryouts. Going from six to sixty and from one team to six teams this year is insane, and the level of competition has increased too. Everyone has gotten better because they have more opportunities to play this sport. The level of competitive play and the number of girls who want to play the sport have grown tremendously.”
Klam is proof of flag football’s increasing popularity and influence. Next year, she’ll attend Keiser University in Florida on a flag football scholarship.