Women’ flag soccer is now a California highschool sport

California permitted a plan Friday to make flag soccer a women’ highschool sport amid hovering recognition of the sport and a push to get extra feminine athletes on the sphere.

The transfer by the California Interscholastic Federation — the statewide physique that governs highschool athletics — makes flag soccer an official sport for ladies within the nation’s most populous state for the upcoming 2023-24 yr. The plan was permitted unanimously by the group’s federated council in Lengthy Seashore, stated Rebecca Brutlag, an company spokesperson.

Paula Hart Rodas, president-elect of the CIF Southern Part’s council, stated the aim is to get extra women concerned in highschool sports activities and faucet right into a widespread love of soccer by many who’re loath to play sort out. Southern California colleges spanning from Lengthy Seashore to Corona are hoping to begin groups within the fall and the approval permits districts so as to add the game to their budgets, Hart Rodas stated.

“You’ll be able to love the sport of soccer and never love getting tackled however nonetheless wish to take part,” Hart Rodas stated. “Flag proper now’s aimed immediately at getting extra women concerned in athletics by including a unique sport that we all know women throughout the nation are considering, however not prepared to play sort out for a wide range of causes.”

The transfer provides California to a rising record of states which have included women’ flag soccer in highschool athletic applications, equivalent to Alabama and Nevada. New York state’s public high school athletic association took an identical step this week and expects to host the primary state championship for ladies flag soccer within the spring of 2024.

The vote in California comes amid a surge in curiosity in flag soccer amongst youthful gamers in leisure leagues and burgeoning assist from the NFL and groups such because the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, which have been running a pilot high school league for ladies in Southern California.

Scores of faculties signed as much as take part within the pilot and people chosen to take action — and the keen younger gamers who performed in it — have broadly been seen as pioneers within the sport.

Paul Schmidt stated being a part of a start-up has been thrilling for his 14-year-old daughter, who had by no means performed flag soccer earlier than she tried out for the crew at Redondo Union Excessive Faculty, one of many colleges taking part within the league. Making the game official ought to make it simpler to safe area time, he stated, and provides a lift to a tight-knit crew of ladies that has bonded round beginning one thing new.

“She loves it, loves it. It’s thrilling to be in a brand new sport,” he stated.

Rising curiosity in flag soccer — wherein nobody will get tackled and a play ends when an opposing participant pulls a flag from a belt across the ball-carrier’s waist — comes amid concern in regards to the danger of concussions and different accidents from sort out soccer.

Within the decade main as much as 2018-19, the variety of women enjoying flag soccer in U.S. excessive colleges doubled to 11,000, in line with the Nationwide Federation of State Excessive Faculty Associations.

With out the CIF’s approval, California excessive colleges may manage flag soccer golf equipment. However coaches stated permitting official interscholastic competitors will seemingly drive extra colleges to begin groups and develop a pipeline of gamers.

Troy Vincent Sr., the NFL’s government vp of soccer operations, wrote within the Sacramento Bee that occasions have modified since he performed skilled soccer, which again then was “broadly seen as a person’s recreation.” He stated highschool gamers would possibly be capable to play into school and past as universities have additionally ramped up the game.

Vincent can be pushing to get flag soccer added to 2028 Olympic Video games in Los Angeles.

“That is now not only a yard sport for ladies’ pickup video games throughout household vacation gatherings,” he stated.

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