Police Athletic Leagues of South Florida Launches Girls’ Flag Football Program with Support from USA Football Grant

By Samuel Teets | Posted 5/16/2024

Police Athletic Leagues (P.A.L.s) of South Florida recently concluded its first girls’ flag football season. The spring league featured eight P.A.L. chapters from across the state and approximately 76 participants in fifth through eighth grade. For Police Athletic Leagues of South Florida Executive Director, Tim Albury, the successful season marked the culmination of a year of planning.  

Albury met USA Football’s Director of Consulting Sales, Mike Cuzzone, at a national conference in 2023. The two discussed the benefits of launching a girls’ flag football program focused on filling the gap between the early youth and high school levels. It didn’t take long for Albury and his team to begin the process of making girls’ flag football the Police Athletic Leagues of South Florida’s first sports program.  

“We started looking at adding girls’ flag football last year, and the pieces all fell into place,” Albury said. “It was an opportunity to kick things off together [with USA Football] and then try to make this something really good down the road.” 

The league’s success has Albury and Police Athletic Leagues of South Florida looking into offering opportunities to play in the fall as the program continues connecting with the communities its P.A.L. chapters serve.  

“Our mission is similar to the mission of each individual Police Athletic League, which is to give kids a place to be involved in activities, including sports, educational spaces, mentoring opportunities and many other programs,” Albury explained. “Our job is to support each individual Police Athletic League together as a unit. We’re stronger together than we are individually, so our goal is to help Police Athletic Leagues succeed by working together.” 

Albury, who ran his own individual P.A.L. chapter for 11.5 years while working for the Davie Police Department, is a long-running supporter of Florida’s local communities. He and Police Athletic Leagues of South Florida hold annual conferences for youth and adults and offer a “Stop the Violence” curriculum that several chapters visit schools to teach.  

“We wanted to do sports from the start, but we wanted to establish our organization and get ourselves up and running first,” Albury said. “Once we did that, it was just a matter of making contacts.” 

Police Athletic Leagues of South Florida applied for and received a girls’ flag grant as part of USA Football’s grants program, which has already awarded 10,000 flag belts and 1,500 footballs in 2024 to support the development of flag football. Albury’s organization took full advantage of the opportunity to launch its inaugural season.  

“The grant was instrumental. By providing the necessary equipment and informational material with rules, coaching practices and the opportunity to get our coaches certified, USA Football made it so we didn’t have to re-invent the wheel,” Albury said. “The grant also meant that we didn’t have to go out there and try to find ways to raise the money to put on this program. Police Athletic Leagues are non-profits and rely heavily on donations and fundraising. This opportunity was a great fit for us. Without the girls’ flag grant, it probably would’ve taken us another year to get the program started.” 

Flag football, which is a sanctioned high school varsity sport for girls in 11 states, is exploding in popularity. Per USA Football research, the number of girls ages 6-12 playing flag football has increased 222% in the past decade. During the same time, there was a 44% increase in girls ages 6-17 playing the sport. Police Athletic Leagues of South Florida is doing its part by inspiring young athletes to fall in love with the game.  

“There was a mother that I spoke to who said her daughter found a new passion through flag football,” Albury said. “She just loved playing. She was just so in love with the game that she enjoyed every minute of it regardless of whether her team was winning or losing. That was really cool to hear.” 

The league hosted its championship in March, concluding a successful first season in front of supportive family members and representatives from the local community.  

“It was great to see all of the people out there. There was a young girl with a sign supporting her sister, which was cool to see,” Albury recalled. “The Chief from Miami Gardens Police Department and some of her staff came out to support the event. We had a lot of support from the community, police departments and the coaches, which made it an awesome experience. That’s why we’re looking to do something in the fall.” 

Teams line up in one of the first games of Police Athletic League of South Florida's championship day.
Teams line up in one of the first games of Police Athletic League of South Florida's championship day.

Several P.A.L. chapters that Police Athletic Leagues of South Florida serve are taking significant steps to capitalize on the league’s momentum by keeping their athletes engaged deeper into the spring. Girls’ teams from Boynton Beach P.A.L. and Miami Gardens P.A.L. recently participated in USA Football’s Southeast Qualifier tournament in Tampa, marking the first time some athletes attended a regional flag football event.  

“This is the first time that I’ve ever been involved with flag football for girls,” said Bill Tome, President of Boynton Beach P.A.L. “I’ve been affiliated with tackle football for boys for the past 40 years. USA Football sponsored our girls’ team, [helping] with the equipment, uniforms and everything else. It [the Southeast Qualifier] was a great experience. Our girls had never played in a travel tournament until we came here.” 

Police Athletic Leagues of South Florida’s season ran smoothly with plenty of positive feedback and excitement for organizers and P.A.L. chapters to carry over into the fall or next spring. Now, Albury is focused on expanding the program to bring in more P.A.L. chapters and athletes.  

“We’re really excited about the opportunity USA Football gave us to start this program,” Albury said. “We look forward to making this grow into something bigger.”