EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings have partnered with Minneapolis Public Schools to launch a girls flag football team. The NFL team pledged $75,000 to make it happen.
The partnership hopes this is the first step toward making girls flag football a high school sanctioned sport in Minnesota.
"It just gives them an opportunity to learn the game of football," said Madison Cortese, Vikings youth football manager. "Really our goal for this season is to show that football is an inclusive game and provide them an opportunity to learn the game."
The program took nearly two years to develop, with some delays due to COVID. The pilot season, which included roughly 30 girls from different MPS middle schools, ends this Saturday. Vikings football players will meet with the girls as "celebrity guest coaches."
Torrance Hill, assistant director of athletics and middle school sports at Minneapolis Public Schools, said the girls have been having a blast.
"The girls are having a lot of fun," Hill said. "They are very competitive. Once they began, the more they played, the more confident they became and the better they performed."
He said their goal is to more-than-double their participation next year. Not only is it providing the girls an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the game, he says their enthusiasm is contagious.
"It is very interesting seeing 12- and 13-year-olds pound their chests and high five and so forth and so on," he said. "It’s very exciting."
Cortese said right now, they're still working on spreading the word to other communities and schools who may be interested, as they work to expand their reach.
"We encourage any communities to reach out if they are interested in having girls flag either in their middle school or high school," Cortese said. "The Vikings are here to support and we want to support the growth of this sport throughout the state."
The team also hosts a free Girls Football Academy every summer at the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. The program, for girls ages 6-18, lasts for four weeks, on each Monday in June.
To register, visit this site.
Watch the latest coverage from the KARE11 Sunrise in our YouTube playlist: