CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) — On Sunday, the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools wrapped up the first season of girls’ high school flag soccer at Bank of America Stadium.
Chambers was the league title winner, but this is about more than just a league title. It’s about exposure to the sport and the doors it could open and the newfound confidence it brings to these young ladies.
“I was a little scared,” said Butler rookie Brooklyn Saunders as she described first getting into flag football. “I thought, ‘Can I catch a ball?’ But it was a really fun experience to get out of here and be able to prove to myself and others that I can play flag football.”
Football is such a male dominated sport but young girls love the sport too and with flag football in the making some are finally getting a chance to compete in the one sport they really love while others are getting on their feet and expanding their portfolios be able .
“The majority of my team don’t play sports, so this is kind of like their first high school sport that they played,” Saunders said.
“We have cheerleaders on the team, basketball players. Softball players, people who’ve played soccer or volleyball — we have athletes from all different sports playing that game,” Chambers coach Tiana Alexander said. “I remember the first day I created the group chat. I let it sit for maybe five minutes, then I come back to over 2,000 messages.”
So the interest and excitement is undoubtedly there.
While this first year was a pilot program, there is hope that this sport will be sanctioned as a collegiate sport, as is the case in 6 other states.
It was approved in Georgia back in 2020, and nearly 200 school teams have teams playing and televising their championships on the same weekend as the high school boys’ state soccer championship.
Flag football is growing and opening new doors that these young ladies might never have been able to cross after high school.
“There are also scholarship opportunities for these college-level young women to play flag football,” said Ericia Turner, director of athletics at CMS. “As much as we can create more opportunities for girls, now is the right time to do it.”
“But also a question of coaching,” said Mike Rucker, Panthers legend and Football League girls’ flag ambassador. “It gives them a different perspective of playing flag football. If they want to get into coaching I think there are a lot of options and you can see where this is really going to take off and have a lot of elevation as more people in different counties across the state of North Carolina hear about it.”
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