In February, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) declared women's flag football as an emerging sport in a collective effort with the National Football League and Reigning Champs Experiences (RCX).
RCX is the official operating partner of NFL FLAG and the NAIA women's flag football initiative. The goal is to help the NJCAA bring awareness and develop the sport's framework within the women's flag industry.
Through its efforts and collaboration with the NFL, RCX has added to women's flag football's rapid growth throughout the country.
Molly Simmons explains that the role the NFL plays in its partnership with women's flag football is vital. The foundation has granted the NJCAA foundation $150,000 to send out 15 grants of $10,000 for schools interested in participating in the sports.
The NFL backing up schools and sports can help bring awareness and popularity to the sport.
What makes the league so great is its capability; it is available to anyone who wants to participate.
They are two-year colleges that are based and rooted within the communities. The NJCAA will help create a viable route for female athletes to earn a scholarship at the collegiate level and simultaneously earn a degree.
NCAA has over 500 member schools in 44 states
There were over 30 programs that participated in the grant. NJCAA is expected by 2023 to have 60 programs instilled within the colleges.
The NJCAA will form the Women's Flag Football Sports Committee to create guidelines and a competition structure.
Once the board approves an emerging sport in the bylaws, a committee will determine the rules, roosters, how the season will start, and how many scholarships will be given.
There are also opportunities for the athletes to play at a higher level.
The NFL last year said they would be joining with 32 existing teams to add women's flag football to the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. The games will feature eight men's teams and eight women's teams from around the world.
There is also so much more under the surface. The women on the sidelines who once watched the league run out onto the field with their names across their backs as they played their hearts out on the field can now be those players.
For so many young girls in flag football, the idea of playing the game they love in college has seemed like an impossible dream," said Izell Reese.