National community supports more opportunities for women and girls in football

By Samuel Teets | Posted 5/24/2023

USA Football aims to create more opportunities for girls and women to participate in flag and tackle football through initiatives like the Girls’ Football Advisory Council, Girls’ Flag Grant, community Blitz events and U.S. National Teams. The non-profit isn’t alone. Many prominent voices in the football community support the sport’s increasing accessibility and diversity.  

Over the past year, USA Football spoke with coaches and athletes at the local, collegiate and professional levels about their thoughts on the sport’s expanding opportunities for girls and women. Below are some of their responses.  

Blog: Big Ten Conference head coaches discuss burgeoning opportunities for women and girls in football 

“I sure hope we continue to have girls playing football. I said a number of years ago, I look forward to the day at the collegiate level when I get the opportunity to coach a female athlete. I think that day is coming, I don’t know how far away it is, but it’s on the horizon. Right now, football is a brotherhood, but it will eventually be a brotherhood and sisterhood. That makes it unique to our game where different socio-economic backgrounds, races and religions come together like no other sport. We’ve been pretty selfish as guys. We’ve kept it to ourselves forever, and now we’re seeing women and especially young women having the opportunities to participate. I look forward to the day when I get the privilege to coach a young woman who is our first female player at Northwestern.” --Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern University 

Blog: Callie Brownson & the 2022 U.S. Women's Tackle National Team lead the way for women's football 

“I’ve met so many young girls at some of these events who aspire to play tackle football. Now’s the greatest time they’ll ever have to get involved, and there’s support behind it. That’s been the biggest thing that’s been missing in the past, the support and the welcoming of a young girl or a woman who wants to get involved in women's tackle. Now the support is there, the community is there, there’s a lot of traction behind it. You’ve got NFL female coaches who are involved in building this up and creating so many different avenues for women who want to get involved. I think now is as great a time as ever for anybody who wants to get involved.” --Callie Brownson, Cleveland Browns & 2022 U.S. Women’s Tackle National Team Head Coach 

Blog: Big Ten Conference head coaches discuss burgeoning opportunities for women and girls in football 

“I founded an organization called the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches, and we have quite a few women who are involved with the organization. Each and every year, I keep seeing women who can flat-out coach. They understand football and they bring a different perspective in terms of their approach and how they teach and nurture football players. They’ve really been great for the game. I hope to continue to see that movement. You’re seeing it with officials, coaches, and then obviously the women’s leagues that are going on. It’s another opportunity to expand the great game of football.” --Mike Locksley, University of Maryland 

Blog: Building the Pathway: U.S. Women’s Flag National Team Ashlea Klam 

“If I was able to tell my seven-year-old self that I am going to play college flag football on a scholarship, my little self, even my parents when I was that age, would not believe me at all. It means everything to me. I hope to see even more growth in this game as more states offer flag football at a sanctioned level. To see people take this sport seriously at the high school and college levels would mean so much to me and many other girls.” --Ashlea Klam, 2023 U.S. Women’s Flag National Team 

Blog: Big Ten Conference head coaches discuss burgeoning opportunities for women and girls in football 

“As a person who was raised in a single-parent home by his mom and an older sister, married a strong, competitive, super intelligent, athletic wife, and has two daughters who both played flag football, I think it’s awesome to see women getting more opportunities in football. The game should not be specific to a certain sex. I don’t mean that specifically about flag football. I think football in general is for everyone, and we’ve seen that. I think we could see more of that, but I do think flag football offers an opportunity for young men and women to have the opportunity to play the game and promote the game of football in all different avenues and in all different situations.” --James Franklin, Penn State University 

Blog: Building the Pathway: U.S. Women’s Tackle National Team Quineshia Leonard 

“Recently, I was given the opportunity to coordinate a youth girls football camp at Norfolk State University in conjunction with Got Her Back and WNFC. After seeing the amount of girls who wanted to play football, I decided to create the 757 Galaxy. The 757 Galaxy is a youth girls football organization geared towards developing football talent as well as providing mentorship and support.” --Quineshia Leonard, Washington Prodigy & 2022 U.S. Women’s Tackle National Team 

Blog: USA Football Master Trainer Michael Patterson champions football for all 

“It’s amazing to see opportunities for women expanding. My daughter comes to the practice field with me every day, so she’s always been around football. I wasn’t sure if she would want to play. Watching her catch the football and run for a touchdown at halftime in the Cardinals’ stadium was such a proud moment. Now I get to coach her in the game I love and the game she’s starting to love. It just means everything.” --Michael Patterson, Xavier College Preparatory & USA Football Master Trainer 

Blog: Big Ten Conference head coaches discuss burgeoning opportunities for women and girls in football 

“I think there’s been a lot of movement to give girls more opportunities to play sports. It’s wonderful to see them take part in football. My mother was a high school football coach for 25 or 30 years. Giving young girls the opportunity to pick and choose what they want to do can only help, and I’m grateful that boys and girls alike are getting the opportunity to play football.” --Scott Frost, Formerly University of Nebraska