Flag football, more than a game.

By Karleigh-Jayne Jones

Karleigh-Jayne talks about her experience of joining her Flag Football team, how inclusive the team is and the joy of getting a game saving flag pulled in the final.

My team is playing defense. I stand in position, waiting for the opposing centre to snap the ball to the opposing quarterback. Snap is made, I watch the quarterback throw the ball towards my end of the field.  The receiver tries to catch the flying ball while I run over to stop him doing so. He drops it, the pass is no good. Everyone sets up for the next play and I reset and get ready.

No this isn’t a fantasy. This is during a game of Flag Football I am playing with my local club the Tauranga City Tridents. I have been a member since late last year when the club was first established after seeing an article online on a local news website. I went to my first training the following week and I kept going ever since. 

Flag Football is to American Football as what Rippa Rugby is to Rugby. It is a non-contact version of American Football where instead of tackling the ball carrier, a down occurs when the ball carrier has a flag from a belt around their waist taken off. Other than that, and the smaller field and team sizes, the rules are basically the same as the contact version.

I love playing Flag Football. It may look like a mess, but it is full of strategy which suits my Autistic brain quite well. It allows me to get some well needed exercise. My clubmates are an awesome, accepting bunch and allow me to play to my strengths. There are opportunities to travel and to compete at a national level and maybe even an international level. It’s a sport that I can take as far as I want to. Also, my older brother has joined the club and is training to be an official.

A highlight is being in the winning team for our internal flag tournament. I felt like I could really contribute and be an integral part of the team. I even got a game saving flag pull in the final and everyone went crazy just like the Superbowl. I almost cried happy tears after prizegiving, and people couldn’t stop talking about my flag pull at the bar afterwards.

I encourage anyone to give flag football a go. It is physical, strategic and has helped me to build awesome relationships.  

Down, set, HUTT.