INDIANAPOLIS — Flag football is now an Olympic sport, and it will make its debut in the 2028 Olympics. This comes as the sport is growing in popularity.
"I told my fiancé I was just like my timeline is just full of football and it's just super amazing to see, " Amber Clark a Safety for U.S. National Women’s Flag Football Team said.
Clark grew up always wanting to play football but never got the opportunity until she started playing flag football in 2020 and found great success.
"When we won that's when I felt the emotions of like, I have this country's name across my chest,” Clark said. It’s something I have been working for. To feel that gold medal go around your neck to see the flag and hear that national anthem it was just like whew "
Clark won gold this past summer at the Americas Continental Flag Football Championship. Now she and other flag football players will have the chance to play at an even higher level of competition, the Olympics.
"When you look at the Olympics, they are really looking for a sport that is dynamic, is fast, is equitable,” Eric Mayes the USA Football Managing Director of National Teams said. “So, flag football getting in is a great opportunity for both men and women's competitors, which you don't see typically in many aspects especially internationally in tackle football. It's also from a resource perspective it's easier to implement across the countries."
The sport has also grown in popularity over the years. According to USA Football,7.1 million people participated in flag football in 2022 alone. On top of that, girl’s flag football is a sanctioned varsity sport in half a dozen states. Indiana is not one of those states yet.
"We create a population of athletes that we invite to our trials, USA national team trials that takes place at the U.S. Performance center in Charlotte,” Mayes said. “We whittle that roster down to 12 active members and then those 12 members compete with us across the world."
With a recruitment plan already in place, athletes are excited for the potential of them heading to Olympics in 2028.
"It's so competitive, it's so energetic and so entertaining. I am just super excited to have this opportunity to allow the world to finally bring them into our world," Clark said.
Girls flag football isn't a varsity sport at Indiana high schools, but there is a push to change that. This year, eight teams played in the inaugural Colt’s high school girls flag football league. Five teams are from Indianapolis and three from South Bend. Their season wrapped up last month.
Officials say this is the first step in the process toward varsity status. An interest form will be sent out to all athletic directors to gauge interest and grow the sport across the state.
If your kids are interested in flag football, you can go toNFLflag.com and put in your zip code to find a league near you.