The Pittsburgh Steelers are sponsoring a pilot girls’ flag football league in Pittsburgh-area high schools. Girls’ flag football is already a sanctioned sport in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and New York, and the Steelers are hoping Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) will be next in line to sanction the sport.
To be considered as a sanctioned sport, there needs to be 25 participating schools in the state, and when that occurs, it’s considered an “emerging sport,” according to the PIAA. After that, the idea of getting sanctioned becomes realistic. Currently, The Ellis School, Moon Area High School, West Alleghany High School, Shaler Area High School, Ambridge High School, and West Alleghany High School are participants in the pilot league for western Pennsylvania. The season started on April 24.
“The goal is to get a hundred schools participating and make it a sanctioned sport by the PIAA,” Mike Marchinsky, director of youth football for the Steelers said. “Once we have a hundred schools, they can participate in the championship and have it be a varsity sport, just like football, basketball or soccer.”
The Steelers are helping with the league by providing money for uniforms, footballs, flags and officials, North Alleghany Head Coach Michelle Ruiz told Trib Live.
Ruiz also talked about the excitement the girls bring to each practice and game.
“They’re really excited and they really want to prove themselves,” Ruiz said. “I think their fear is that it will go away, that it will be here and gone. They’re having so much fun with it that they want to see it stay.”
The interest in having girls’ flag football become a sanctioned sport is nothing new for the Steelers. In November and February, the team held jamborees for girls in grades 7-12 to come and play the sport at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
“Flag Football is an exciting game, and already very popular in community programs, so it is great to provide high school girls with an opportunity to keep playing and represent their high school,” Steelers President Art Rooney II told Steelers.com.
The initiative to make girls flag football sanctioned is prevalent across the NFL. The Steelers are one of 14 NFL franchises who committed to sponsoring a pilot program, with the goal to get the sport sanctioned in more than just the seven states it currently is.
If you want to follow the coverage of the games, which take place every Sunday afternoon, highlights are posted on the Steelers’ official youth football handle @SteelersYouthFB. The championship game will take place at Heinz Field on May 22.