California accredited a plan Friday to make flag soccer a ladies’ highschool sport amid hovering recognition of the sport and a push to get extra feminine athletes on the sector.
The transfer by the California Interscholastic Federation — the statewide physique that governs highschool athletics — makes flag soccer an official sport for women within the nation’s most populous state for the upcoming 2023-24 12 months. The plan was accredited unanimously by the group’s federated council in Lengthy Seaside, stated Rebecca Brutlag, an company spokesperson.
Paula Hart Rodas, president-elect of the CIF Southern Part’s council, stated the objective is to get extra ladies concerned in highschool sports activities and faucet right into a widespread love of soccer by many who’re loath to play deal with. Southern California colleges spanning from Lengthy Seaside 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 may love the sport of soccer and never love getting tackled however nonetheless need to take part,” Hart Rodas stated. “Flag proper now’s aimed instantly at getting extra ladies concerned in athletics by including a special sport that we all know ladies throughout the nation are concerned with, however not prepared to play deal with for a wide range of causes.”
The transfer provides California to a rising listing of states which have included ladies’ flag soccer in highschool athletic applications, similar to Alabama and Nevada. New York state’s public high school athletic association took an analogous step this week and expects to host the primary state championship for women 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 women in Southern California.
Scores of colleges 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 College, one of many colleges collaborating within the league. Making the game official ought to make it simpler to safe area time, he stated, and offers 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 — through which 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 deal with soccer.
Within the decade main as much as 2018-19, the variety of ladies enjoying flag soccer in U.S. excessive colleges doubled to 11,000, in accordance with the Nationwide Federation of State Excessive College Associations.
With out the CIF’s approval, California excessive colleges may arrange 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 govt vice chairman 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 sport.” He stated highschool gamers may have the ability 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 not only a yard sport for women’ pickup video games throughout household vacation gatherings,” he stated.
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