USA Football to host third annual Junior International Cup in Los Angeles in 2024

By Samuel Teets | Posted 2/13/2024

USA Football, the sport’s governing body in the U.S., will host the third annual Junior International Cup in Los Angeles in July of 2024. The Junior International Cup brings together 15U and 17U Boys’ and Girls’ National Teams from around the world to compete in flag football, which will debut at the Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.  

The Junior International Cup aims to help young, elite athletes from International Federation of American Football (IFAF) member nations gain experience playing on the international stage while encouraging countries to continue developing pathways to play the sport at the highest level. In 2023, Canada, Japan, Mexico and Panama fielded teams for the event.  

“My favorite memories from the Junior International Cup were getting to meet so many unique people from many different countries,” said quarterback Ava Wallace, who competed in the Junior International Cup in 2022 and 2023 with the U.S. Junior National Team. “The cultural experience was incredible, and the talent was off the charts! I thought it was super cool when the girls from Japan taught me some hand signals which indicated respect and friendship. I really enjoyed spending valuable time with my teammates before playing. We ate all meals together, we stayed in a dorm together, we had meetings together and we did literally everything else together. It was so much fun.” 

Quarterback Ava Wallace in action at the 2023 Junior International Cup
Quarterback Ava Wallace in action at the 2023 Junior International Cup.

The 2024 Junior International Cup will occur in concert with The One, USA Football’s premier national flag football championship, and USA Football’s first annual Select Bowl, the championship event for the recently announced National Team Development Program.  

All USA Football international events, including the Junior International Cup, follow IFAF’s five-on-five rules to promote and maintain a consistent style of play in competition and prepare young athletes for future international events. 

"My favorite memories from the Junior International Cup were meeting all my new friends from different countries," said 15U Boys National Team member Ryder Noche, who was recently recognized at the 13th annual NFL Honors for his outstanding performance in flag football. "I learned about different cultures, food and people while creating lifelong memories. Facing National Teams from other countries was tough. Every country played their hardest, and they were very passionate."

“Facing National Teams from other countries was an experience like no other,” said Wallace. “Seeing the way teams ran their offenses and defenses was so unique, and I learned so much from them. There was a level of respect I’d never experienced before. All of the countries had great sportsmanship, and I could tell that everyone was just grateful for the opportunity to compete in the United States.” 

This past year marked a period of unprecedented exposure and success for flag football. In October, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) added flag football to the Olympic program for the 2028 summer games in Los Angeles, drawing applause from international players around the world.  

“The decision to add flag football to the 2028 Summer Olympic program in Los Angeles is an acknowledgment of the sport's tremendous international growth and appeal as a fast, exciting and competitive sport,” said USA Football CEO Scott Hallenbeck. “USA Football works tirelessly to support the sport’s exponential growth at all levels by encouraging the creation of more pathways to play, and inclusion in the Olympic Games will have a transformative impact on our sport – from the grassroots level to our elite U.S. National Teams.” 

Fortunately, the timing works out that many of the athletes at the 2024 Junior International Cup will be eligible to compete for spots on adult national teams by the time flag football debuts in the Olympics. This emphasizes the importance of athletes with Olympic aspirations continuing their development by gaining experience in international events.    

“Overall, I enjoyed the ‘family-like’ experience,” Wallace said. “I’ve grown very fond of the people I met at the 2022 and 2023 Junior International Cups. I am beyond grateful for the platform USA Football has provided for junior athletes to compete at such a high level.” 

The previous Junior International Cups occurred in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan and in Charlotte at the United States Performance Center (USPC) located on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This past year, the U.S. teams swept the gold medals while Japan swept the silver standings. 

USA Football will release more information on the 2024 Junior International Cup on in the near future.