Monroe Township wants girls between 5 and 18 to join its flag football team.
Monroe Township Flag started in 2017 and is currently in its fifth season. More than 425 kids are part of the recreational flag football team and come out every Sunday to play together. But of that number, only 30 players are females.
“I think a lot of girls do want to come out and play, but I think a lot of them are shy and intimidated,” said Nikki Hand, secretary of Monroe Township Flag. “But when they are playing out in the backyard, they are having a good time. I think it is important for girls to realize they can do anything.
“When these girls started,” Hand added, “they were the extra kid on the sideline … They have all now grown into super-competitive athletes, and a few of them were drafted over any other boy on their team.”
Sign-ups for flag football begin every year in December, and the teams play from March until June. At the beginning of the season, coaches decide who will be on what team in a draft style. After a few seasons of watching the girls play their hearts out on the field, the coaches began to think harder about their choice of players.
“When you find out your daughter was picked over a bunch of super-competitive boys who not only play flag football but tackle football, it makes you feel really good,” Hand noted. “At least some of these coaches are seeing the potential that these girls have to be great athletes.”
As with any coed sport, there are those who accept the differences in teammates and those who don’t. But with a growing number of girls joining the league, some teams are finally accepting their female counterparts.
“You get both ends of the spectrum: You get the boys who might be a little intimidated or resentful, but then you do see the camaraderie,” Hand explained. “My daughter is the only girl on her one team and they really do rally around her … I would say it’s the same thing in any sport or any profession where it is male dominated, you really have to hold your own.
“I think for the most part, a lot of the boys treat (females) as equals.”
Although sign-ups for the current season are closed, Hand is hopeful more girls will feel welcome enough to register in December for the league’s sixth season.
For more information, visit https://www.mtflag.com/mtflag.