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Hi there! We are Avery Witherspoon and Tessa Muddle, and we are co-founders of Flag Like A Girl. Flag Like A Girl is an all-girls flag football league based out of Edmonton. Tessa was a competitive gymnast for ten years. After she quit last December, she took up track and weightlifting, neither of which she particularly fell in love with. She joined the NFL Flag Spring League and knew it was for her. She played on the first Alberta U16 girls flag football team, and played on the Strathcona Lords flag football team, where they won first in the league. She still loves running, although not on a team. Avery used to play soccer, but now focuses her attention on basketball and football. She plays on the Strathcona Lords junior girls basketball team, as well as with Altitude basketball. She plays flag football with NFL Flag and enjoys biking and playing football with her dad in her free time. Both of us have coached flag football with NFL Flag and felt like there needed to be more.

In September, we had the opportunity to attend the Edmonton Play To Lead program by Jumpstart. That’s where we met Gaby Estrada, the Fast and Female executive director. She led a program at the Play To Lead summit, and we learnt more about Fast and Female. We first came to Gaby, and more inspirational women, to present our idea. The overwhelming support and confidence in us was more than we needed to make our dreams feel possible. So we got to work. We created our Instagram account in November and urged our coach, Darryl Draudson, to promote a girls’ league in flag football. As we worked with him, we also came up with an NFL Females In Flag development camp. We started coaching in the fall, and have continued to grow our coaching resumes. This winter and spring there will be a separate girls league, and Team Alberta tryouts are already being advertised.

Flag football is not a widely known sport, and often is followed with gender biases. The sport is sometimes considered an off-season form of practice for tackle football players. Although this is a great tool for off-season training, we know it can be more. In our own personal experiences, we have seen firsthand the problems of not having enough girls to make a team and coaching a total of ten girls from U10 to U14. Flag football is a sport that provides life skills, leadership, and physical activity, however, the one thing holding girls back is the information and experiences available for girls in Edmonton and across Canada. We see flag football as a new way to play, and an important part of that image is seeing girls in this sport. Playing sports can give girls a chance to feel confident, and grow a love for being athletic. As people who grew up playing sports, we know how important that is.

At Flag Like a Girl, our goal is to support and provide for the needs of girls in football. This program strives to provide an environment that allows girls to develop lifelong athletic skills, strengthen both physical and mental health, make friends, and build team relationships through flag football. Regardless of skills or background in flag football, this program wants to empower girls throughout the sport and encourage them to continue playing!

Check out Flag Like a Girl over on Instagram, and be sure to keep up with all things Flag Football!