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Bears, Jets celebrate expansion of girls flag football league in United Kingdom

Bears linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and Jets linebacker Quincy Williams
Bears linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and Jets linebacker Quincy Williams

The Bears traveled to London Thursday alongside the New York Jets to kick off the second season of their UK NFL Girls Flag League. After launching the league together last year, the Bears and Jets reunited to celebrate the trailblazing female athletes ahead of International Women's Day.

"The Chicago Bears are excited to once again partner with the New York Jets to promote and advance the great game of football by continuing to support a girls flag football league in the UK," Bears director of community and alumni relations Matt Simeone said.  "Our goal is to always make football more inclusive, accessible, and equitable.  We have seen amazing success with the growth of girls flag football in Illinois and we hope to continue growing the game internationally."

Bears linebacker Tremaine Edmunds represented the club at the event, which featured over 200 local girls flag players, and showed his support for the athletes who are developing a passion for football. He helped the players participate in drills like wide receiver routes, flag attack, ultimate football and combine skills.

Edmunds-flag-interaction

Edmunds was joined by Jets linebacker Quincy Williams and Great Britain Women's Flag stars Ellie Thorpe, Kellie Barrett and Kate Bruinvels.

"It meant a lot just having the opportunity to come out with the Bears and get behind what they're doing," Edmunds said, "just support the girls out there, participate and give them encouraging words and affirmation that there's light at the end of the tunnel as far as what they want to do in life. Seeing how much fun they had, seeing the passion they had and the excitement they had, it meant a lot just to witness it. The energy was there.

"To see the effect that it has on the world, just other countries getting involved and wanting to get behind this and start participating as well — I think this is just the beginning. And I think it's the beginning of something special."

In just a year the league nearly doubled in size going from 12 to 21 teams that will compete in two conferences across the London boroughs of Ealing and Lambeth. Participation numbers have more than doubled, increasing from 120 to 260.

Barrett has quickly seen girls flag football and American football grow in the United Kingdom over the last few years. She believes these types of events hosted by NFL teams are empowering young girls to get involved with the sport.

"I think it's incredible," Barrett said. "When you think of American football, you think of the NFL. So knowing that NFL teams are willing to empower women in a sport that is essentially male-dominated is huge. I think the fact that they're willing to give back to the community to get girls involved is so important. It's such a nice thing especially being a woman who came into it from such a young age. A day like this — I would have loved it when I was a kid."

Great Britain Women’s Flag stars Kate Bruinvels, Ellie Thorpe and Kellie Barrett.
Great Britain Women’s Flag stars Kate Bruinvels, Ellie Thorpe and Kellie Barrett.

Flag football will officially be a part of the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The Bears are continuing their efforts of growing the game of flag football internationally after having success with recently helping the sport become sanctioned in the state of Illinois. To learn more about the Bears' involvement in girls flag football, visit: https://www.chicagobears.com/girls-flag-football/

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