Bears host girls flag football event to promote newest IHSA sport

17-year-old Andrea Wells is undecided BOUT pursuing flag football or participating in cheerleading at Crane high school. Monday’s girls flag football event enticed her to give more credence towards playing flag football.

“I didn’t know I was going to enjoy myself this much right now, but it’s fun,” Wells said. “It pushes me back into thinking about joining flag football this year.”

In partnership with the Chicago Bears, Ledley King — who played his entire career for the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur — traveled from England to participate in Monday’s girls flag football event at Crane, the alma mater of Bears founder George Halas. Both girls and boys participated in football drills — running routes, backpedaling like a defensive back and trying to take the flag. The Bears will play a 2024 regular-season game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

King flew into Chicago yesterday and toured Soldier Field, similar to linebacker Tremaine Edmonds when he visited England. King said he’s enjoying his time in Chicago, and that was evident as he sported a smile as he talked and interacted with kids.

“For many of the kids today, it’s their first time playing flag football,” King said. “It’s great for them to see a sport they’ve never played before. You can see how much fun they’re having.”

The Illinois High School Association announced on Feb.14 that girls flag football would become an official IHSA sport. More than 100 schools will participate in flag football this year, and IHSA Craig Anderson said at the press conference that the sport is one of the fastest-growing sports in Illinois history.

The Bears’ partnership with CPS was paramount in the sport’s growth. The 2023 state championship series was held at Halas Hall. Whether through donations or hosting events, the Bears have been in lockstep with Juliana Zavala, the senior manager of girls flag football, in growing the sport.

“To have the backing of the Chicago Bears is what you have to do to move this thing forward,” former Bears cornerback Jerry Azumah said. “The Bears have been advocates for women in sports in general. Football was just looked at as a male dominated-league, but now you’re starting to see girls be referees, coaches, and top execs or females. So it’s opened up the door to a lot of different avenues.”

The Bears recently hired Jennifer King, the first Black woman to be a full-time assistant coach in NFL history.

However, investing in events and exposing younger kids to flag football will drum up the interest. It’s important for those kids to see former players and female representatives show up and coach them through drills.

“You need to be able to see a clear path and a vision in what you’re doing; that makes a huge difference,” King said. “When I started playing football, it wasn’t too long before I had a vision of myself. It’s important that these people have a route that they can aspire to go down.”

Source link


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *