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A football league of their own

The new all-girls football league in Boise
Posted at 6:13 AM, Feb 06, 2024

WEST BOISE, IDAHO — For the first time in it's 75-year history, Optimist Youth Football will have an all-girls flag football league starting this spring.

  • 3 different divisions for girls aged 8-13
  • Sign up's have started with practices starting in April and games beginning in May
  • Click here for more info or to sign up!

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

A sports league in Idaho is breaking barriers. Matt Sizemore visited the Optimist Youth sports complex and to learn all about Idaho's first ever all-girls flag football league.

"Growing up, I didn't really fit a mold of what I wanted to play. We didn't have rugby where I grew up and so I played volleyball and I loved it but it wasn't my niche," said Girl's 5 Flag Football League Director Loren Wilson.

She wasn't the only one who felt limited in what she was told she could play.

"A little bit more of the boy's side of the sports spectrum, if you will. Again, me not fitting a mold, her not fitting a mold, we wanted to get into something a little bit different, we've been watching football our whole lives," said Girl's 5 Flag Football League Director Samantha Hayes.

And when it comes to football, today, the two of them see much of the same thing they went through when they were kids.

"We see little girls play in the coed teams, we are seeing girls across the country, older women, we're seeing women just flourish, and these are all a lot of the women that just didn't fit a mold," said Wilson.

But on the 75th anniversary of the Treasure Valley's Optimist Youth Football program, an idea was thrown around that could end up as a history-making touchdown.

"Optimist reached out to us, we sat down with them, met with them, talked about their ideas, we talked about our ideas, and we decided to partner together so we could offer this for our young girls," said Wilson.

Loren and Samantha both play in and help run the adults-only Treasure Valley Women's Flag Football League, so handing off the idea for an all-girl's youth flag football league to them would be an easy conversion.

"Kind of build a pipeline to siphon into our league, to siphon into the Olympics here in four years since it's going to be an official sport, so we wanted to jump on the opportunity as fast as humanly possible and do what we can to make an impact," said Hayes.

Just like that, for the first time in Idaho history, girls aged 8-13 years old will have their own flag football league starting this spring. I had the chance to get on the field with some of the girls that had already signed up, as well as a few of their mothers who play in the adult league, and can easily say we achieved the new youth league's main goal.

"It's legit to have fun. To have these little girls fall in love with football as their learning the logistics or learning the movements or learning how to run or get a flag or all the fundamentals. But at the end of the day, we want parents to have fun, we want kids to have fun, we want parents at the end of the day to walk away and say this is awesome, and little girls to say I'm coming back and I'm doing this again," said Wilson.

If your little girl wants to be part of history, sign up's have already started with practices beginning in April and games in May. It's the perfect opportunity to get plenty of exercise, meet some new friends, learn a new sport, and maybe even show up the boys someday. After all, as my 3-year old daughter will tell you, girls rule, boys drool!

"With softball and soccer, having football in the mix so that they have a decision and a pipeline to keep playing that, that's exciting. And there's zero expectations. You get to learn and you get to be along side your best friends that you're gonna be able to know the rest of your life. There's nothing better," said Hayes.