Two Scots picked for national 17U girls flag football team

INDIANAPOLIS —Two Vincent Memorial Catholic High School students were chosen by USA Football to participate on the 2022 U.S. girls 17U flag football team, according a release issued Wednesday.

Lia Cruz, 11, and Sarah Villareal, 11, were both selected as wide receivers on the team. Paula Nicole Cruz, 9, who attends Colegio de las Americas in Mexicali was selected as an alternate at wide receiver and defensive back for USA Football's 15U team.

Both the 15U and 17U national teams will compete in friendlies this Friday in Tampa, Fla., against select teams built by Flag Football Life, a preferred athlete scouting partner of USA Football, the release said. The games will kick off the weekend’s 2021 Flag Football Life Championship, hosted by the Tournament Sportsplex of Tampa Bay.

The 15U teams will square off at 3:30 p.m. local time, followed by the 17Us at 4:30 p.m. Livestreams of both games will be available on Flag Football Life’s Facebook page.

USA Football said this is the first time that girls flag is part of the U.S. national team program.

The competition in Tampa is intended to help the U.S. Girls Flag National Teams to face the world’s top girls national teams in their age group in June at a global flag football series hosted by USA Football. Location and other details of this summer’s international flag event will be announced this spring.

Friday’s games will be played in a five vs. five format under International Federation of American Football (IFAF) rules. IFAF, an International Olympic Committee provisional member, is comprised of more than 70 American football-playing member nations spanning six continents, nearly doubling its family of countries (40) in the past 15 years. USA Football is the sport’s national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

“We won't have many opportunities to practice and play together, so this exhibition will be huge” said 15U Head Coach Elliott Giles. “This will also be the first time that these girls have played together as well, so the team bonding and camaraderie is just as important.”

U.S. Girls 17U Head Coach Liz Sowers agreed. “The thing that I have learned the most from both being a player at the top level, and a coach, is that you can have the best athletes on the field, but at the end of the day if you haven't actually played together, it's a true battle,” she said. Sowers, a three-time U.S. Women’s National Team gold medalist, also is the head coach of the NAIA National Champion Ottawa (Kan.) University women’s flag team.

Flag Football Life owner Mike Reimel has led youth flag tournaments for more than 10 years, giving him a front-row seat to girls flocking to football. “Girls flag football is exploding nationwide,” he said. “More high schools are picking it up, more events are being created, colleges are giving scholarships out — it’s an exciting time.”

“We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with Flag Football Life, not only in providing an opportunity for our girls flag national teams to compete, but to showcase the exceptional quality of competition this game can provide” said Eric Mayes, USA Football’s managing director of high performance and national teams.

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