NFL to host 2,800 flag football players for tournament at Hall of Fame Village

With the progressively expanding sport coming to the 2028 Olympics, the NFL Flag is ramping up its efforts to accelerate flag football in lockstep with the growth of the traditional game.

Next month, Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Ohio, will host the new NFL Flag Championships from July 18-21. This tournament, which will include 2,800 boys and girls players from 280 NFL Flag regional teams and six international teams, is part of the NFL’s prioritization of efforts to grow the game at a grassroots level. According to a press release from the league, the tournament will include a total of 2,500 players from 280 NFL Flag regional teams and six international teams.

“(It) exemplifies that flag football at the grass roots level is inclusive and accessible, every girl or boy that wants to play will have every opportunity to play this game,”  said Stephanie Kwok, vice president of NFL Flag, in a statement.

The domestic teams will represent NFL teams from their respective home state. The international division will be made of 14U co-ed teams from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Great Britain and Mexico. Each international team won an NFL Flag tournament in their respective home country.

On Thursday, the 18U girls and 15U boys will play in the pool round before the Round of 16 on Friday. Pool play for all other 9U-15U teams will begin on Friday.

Saturday will feature the 18U girls and 15U boys quarterfinals, playoffs for the other U.S. age divisions, and the playoffs and finals for the international teams.

Sunday will be the semifinals and finals for the 18U girls and 15U boys, and the finals for all other age groups.

According to an ESPN press release, the company will air the 32 games of the 18U girls and 15U boys divisions, with announcers including former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III and play-by-play commentator Mark Jones on the girls tournament and former NFL linebacker Tedy Bruschi and play-by-play announcer Tom Hart on the boys’.

Reporter and analyst Phoebe Schecter—who is also an NFL Global Flag Ambassador from the U.K.—plus Kris Budden and Stormy Buonantony will handle the on-field reporting during the event.

All 32 games will be available on ESPN+ and NFL+, with 20 on YouTube, six on ESPN, and four on ESPN2.

Adding to the broadcast, ESPN’s production team plans to utilize video enhancements that will heighten the viewing experience, having the athletes equipped with chest cameras that will give fans an extra angle of action. And, following a popular trend during football broadcasts, the Worldwide Leader will also have the coaches mic’d up, providing fans a front-row seat to the sidelines and in-game strategy.

“Combining ESPN and Disney platforms with the NFL’s commitment to flag football, the NFL FLAG Championships presented by Toyota will be the showcase event of the summer for the world’s fastest-growing sport,” noted Julie Sobieski, ESPN Senior Vice President of League Programming and Acquisitions, about the overall production rollout partnership. “Through our presentation and robust global distribution, we will spotlight the incredibly talented boys and girls within the tournament while also highlighting the exciting, inclusive, and accessible nature of the sport. We look forward to being a gateway for many fans, including the peers of the participating athletes, to experience competitive flag football for the first time.”

“The NFL Flag Championships Presented by Toyota will be a wonderful opportunity for these athletes to play flag football on the biggest stage they’ve ever experienced,” added Izell Reese, executive director of NFL flag and CEO of RCX Sports, the operator of NFL Flag. “I’m so proud of each of these athletes for chasing their dreams in Ohio, and I’m grateful to our partners to showcase the game on the national stage.”

Flag football has grown substantially in recent years, particularly on the girls’ side, with more and more states sanctioning it as a high school sport. The approaching 2028 Olympics, in which the sport will debut in the global competition, presents the NFL with a chance to further promote the game and the United States with a chance to show American football against international competition.

This flag football tournament occurs around the same time as the Nike Kickoff Classic, which will feature a boys’ high school football game between a domestic team and a team from the United Kingdom and a flag football game between two U.S. girls’ high school teams.

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