March 12, 2024

Women’s Flag Football | 5 Things To Know

After the 2023 season, BC Lions assistant defensive backs coach, Tanya Henderson proposed the initiative of starting a women’s flag football program with the club. She is the first full-time female coach in CFL history, and she began her coaching tenure with the Lions on February 15th, 2022. In two seasons working with the Lions, Henderson has helped the team to two straight Western-Final appearances. Now one of her main missions as a coach is to develop more women athletes in the sport of football.

As the Lions announced a new annual women’s flag football program on International Women’s Day, this is an opportunity for women who wish to learn and play football from a professional coach and players from the BC Lions. The Lions organization welcomes girls and women from the age of 12 and up to join us at two football clinics — no experience is required!

The first clinic will take place at North Shore on Monday, April 29th. Where participants will learn the fundamental skills of football during the first half of the clinic. The second half of the clinic will allow female participants to utilize the skills from the development period and implement them into a gameplay format. Registration is now open.

For those who are still hesitant about joining football, you are not alone. It may feel a little intimidating, but football could be your next gateway to many opportunities in the sport of football — whether as a player, coach, staff or an avid fan! Hopefully, these next 5 Things can convince you to dust off your training shoes and get on the field to have some fun!

1. Empowerment on the Field

Traditionally, football has been a male-dominated sport. To level the playing field, women football players can learn to push their limits in strength, agility and endurance. Through proper coaching, women can develop the physical skills and abilities that they may not have realized they possessed. Physical empowerment can translate to an increase in confidence and self-esteem.

“We really just want to create a platform and space to get women and girls together. For me, it is really important to have adult females as well as junior-high and high school girls because you want those junior and high school girls to see where they can go and what they can do, that playing flag football has a future in their lives. So I think it’s going to be a really unique opportunity for the BC Lions to connect with female fans in a different capacity than they have in the past,” Henderson said on the 1st and Now podcast.

2. Community Connection  

Football communities create a sense of belonging and inclusion. Whether it’s local teams, recreational teams or professional teams, people will find a place and position where they are accepted and valued for their athletic abilities and contribution to the sport.

The network through football offers encouragement, guidance and camaraderie. This can be beneficial for women who are seeking guidance from experienced players and coaches who advocate helping athletes develop their skills, navigate their challenges and help them advance in their daily lives.

“This is an opportunity to improve the skills if participants already have experience playing or to introduce them the game of flag to make a fun experience for women. The opportunities don’t end after the clinic. In the north shore for instance, there’s a local flag football team. We’re making sure participants are aware of those opportunities. There’s GSL, they have flag and tackle football for women. We’re just opening up the possibilities,” said Jamie Taras, BC Lions director of community partnerships.

3. Being Inspired & Inspiring the Next Generation

You see it from time to time in sports where athletes are breaking barriers and making the impossible happen. Coach Henderson is one of the pioneers for women coaches in the CFL. Ottawa REDBLACKS hired Nadia Decoure as an offensive quality control coach in 2023. There are endless inspirations in women’s sports. Recently, WNBA star, Sabrina Ionescu competed in the NBA 3-point shot challenge against Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry during all-star weekend. Ionescu shot lights out against one of the best three-point shooters in the history of basketball. Don’t ever count yourself out!

As a woman in football, you’re not just playing for yourself. You’re inspiring countless others to follow their dreams. Your passion and dedication are lighting the way for young athletes everywhere.

4. Come Learn From the Best 

What better way than spending your day with coach Henderson and fellow BC Lions players! With the skills that professional players already possess, participants will get the opportunity to improve their technique in throwing, catching and learning the fundamentals of playing defence. Coach Henderson comes from a defensive-minded background, where she played linebacker for Team Alberta and Team Canada. While working with the Lions’ defence over the last few seasons on game planning against divisional rivals and pushing the players to their highest potential, coach Henderson knows what it takes to develop the next wave of women in sports.

5. Pure, Unadulterated Fun

Finally, the most important reason for playing any sport is to have fun. Whether you are an experienced player or someone eager to try football for the first time, the BC Lions women’s flag football program is a great starting point to begin your journey with the game. Flag football is a combination of fast-paced action, strategic thinking, skills development and inclusivity. Grab your shoes, rally your squad and come join the Lions at the next two exciting flag football clinics.