Exclusive: Afia Law is buzzing over the launch of the New York Jets and Chicago Bears, NFL Girls Flag league

On International Women’s Day, the New York Jets and Chicago Bears, proudly launched their new Jets and Bears NFL Girls Flag League.

The innovative competition is set to do its utmost to encourage youngsters to get involved in the sport, while giving them unique opportunities to develop their skills and chase potential career paths.

Starting on April 20, over a five-week period, the inaugural league will see girls, aged 12-14 compete in two conferences of six teams each. Subsequently, the two winners will meet in a massive championship event on May 22.

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Of all the sports across the world, not many are growing as quickly as NFL Flag. The non-contact version of American Football is catching the eye of millions of young people. Ultimately, the fun, fast and action-packed game provides a thrilling experience that is difficult not to love. And while it’s brilliant for physical fitness, it also develops character and promotes teamwork.

The Head of Community and Grassroots Development at the NFL, Afia Law, feels overjoyed with the direction Flag is heading in.

She said: “With it being a new sport, it allows young girls to engage in a whole new way. There are a number of skill sets required to play the sport, which makes it inclusive. Girls can find that thing that they’re good at. That’s really exciting. Flag helps people off the field as well as on it. They can find a safe space to make friends with other girls.”

Afia Law talks launch of New York Jets and Chicago Bears, NFL Girls Flag league

In a Sport England survey of 4000 kids between 11-18 years old, 50% of girls revealed they lacked the self-confidence to play competitive sport. Concerningly, 45% believe they don’t have the correct body shape. Furthermore, the same percentage go out of their way to avoid exercise and 61% claim they feel judged.

However, the same study uncovered that 76% of girls want to exercise more regularly. Moreover, 64% enjoy healthy competition, and 66% believe they’re good at playing in a team. Therefore, NFL Flag presents a wonderful opportunity for them to get involved in an activity where they can thrive both mentally and physically.

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Thus, the new Jets and Bears NFL Girls Flag league has come around at the perfect time.

Law beamed: “This is a really exciting initiative for us. It’s the first-ever girls flag football school league that we’ve ever had in the UK. That speaks volumes about the interest here and the need for sports that girls can engage in. The Jets and Bears are huge for female participation in the States.

“They have many different programmes for female athletes. So for them to be able to come to the UK and offer their knowledge around female inclusion and something meaningful for the girls, is really special.

“This is something these two teams are really committed to. They want to make a difference. It’s really exciting to be offering that opportunity.”

The New York Jets and Chicago Bears, NFL Girls Flag league will provide a fantastic experience

However, while the participants are encouraged to have a fantastic time, they all know what’s on the line.

Law said: “The girls will have time to play in their own leagues, get used to the game, enjoy playing against each other and then there’s going to be that championship to find the winner. It’s a nice bit of competition at the end of what will be a really fun and engaging few weeks for the girls.”

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NFL Flag takes centre stage on International Women’s Day

As part of their huge launch event, Sky Sports Presenter Hannah Wilkes, engaged with a great panel full of prominent advocates of women’s sport, including Phoebe Schecter (Team GB NFL Flag player), Celia Quansah (England Rugby Sevens player), Chase Claypool (Chicago Bears wide receiver), C.J. Uzomah (New York Jets tight end) and Ugo Monye (Former England Rugby Union player).

The experts addressed the 100 girls in the audience and spoke about the barriers that stop girls from staying active during secondary school. They opened up about their own personal experiences and how sport has helped change their lives. And to top it off, the participants received their official Nike and team-branded kit and had a taster session of what’s to come with the esteemed NFL UK coaches.

Read: NFL Foundation UK partners with Sport England to expand flag football (sporf.com)

Afia Law had a great time at the launch event

Law came away from the event feeling incredibly happy with what the future has in store for all the participants.

She said: “It was really special to use a day like International Women’s Day, where we’re not just highlighting females in sport, but many different factors. It was a celebration for the girls who are going to take part in this league. It was a great kick-off event for the girls to get an insight.

“We had a discussion panel with a number of male and female athletes from the Jets and the Bears, talking about the opportunities in Flag. I think that really inspired the girls.

“They’ve all been successful in the sport, through coaching, playing, or just being an advocate. There was not one person across the panel who didn’t have an inspiring story to tell. I think the great thing about that is that every girl in the audience had someone they could look up to.”

Afia Law has achieved incredible things through NFL Flag

To her core, Law adores NFL Flag and the impact it’s had on her life. Since first discovering the sport over a decade ago, she’s enjoyed a flourishing career, which has allowed her to travel the world, helping grow the game she holds so close to her heart. And now, she wants other girls to explore the same opportunities.

She concluded: “It’s fantastic to see how far the sport has come. I got involved 13 years ago when there really wasn’t any women’s league in the UK. To see how it’s grown, with such a drive on female participation, how many are playing, and these new initiatives coming in are going to change the future of the sport for women. It’s so exciting.

“Opportunities are growing and growing, and women can have careers in this sport. Just a few years ago, women started getting scholarships to play in the US. So there’s a real chance to get an education and grow within a sport they love playing. So, I can’t speak more highly of how special this is.”

Featured Image Credit: NFL