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Bears, Jets announce expansion of UK NFL Girls Flag league ahead of International Women's Day

Flag football continues to grow around the world, and the Bears and Jets are helping make it happen.

On March 7, a day before International Women's Day, Chicago and New York helped launch the second year of the NFL Girls Flag football league -- the first all-girls competition of its kind in the United Kingdom -- at AFC Wimbledon's Cherry Red Records Stadium.

Bears linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and Jets linebacker Quincy Williams both participated in the launch, which was attended by over 200 girls from 21 different schools.

Also in attendance were Jason Bell, a six-year NFL veteran and UK broadcaster, and Great Britain Women's Flag team members Ellie Thorpe, Kellie Barrett and Kate Bruinvels.

The event included an NFL Flag session conducted by NFL coaches, as well as a media workshop, activities such as cornhole and shuffleboard, and an opportunity for the participants to receive their Nike-sponsored team jerseys.

The second year of the league will kick off on April 15, with participation jumping from 120 girls based in the London borough of Ealing during the inaugural season to 260, now spanning across multiple boroughs.

The Bears and Jets will each oversee a conference. The league champion, set to be crowned on May 20, will be invited to attend the 2024 London Games -- just as last year's first-ever champion, Ealing Fields, was in 2023.

"As flag football progresses, the Chicago Bears will remain committed to championing the sport's growth," the Bears said in a statement. "We are thrilled to be back in the UK for a second year with the Jets. To see the enthusiasm and engagement for American Football is incredible, and we are excited for what the second year of the league will bring, especially ahead of the Bears playing a game in London in October."

The Jets also provided a statement regarding the launch: "We are delighted to strengthen our commitment to the UK youth this year and expand the Girls Flag league. As a franchise, we are committed to growing female participation in sports at every opportunity. NFL Flag provides a sustainable way to achieve this while teaching young girls life lessons that will have an impact far beyond the football field."

The sport's growth continues four years out from the 2028 Summer Olympic Games, where Flag will make its debut in Los Angeles.

Girls and women, in particular, have contributed to some of the fastest uptick in engagement, something NFL organizations like the Bears and Jets hope leads to empowering girls worldwide as they develop skills and healthy habits through a unique team environment.

"It's fantastic to see participation in NFL Flag throughout the UK continuing to grow at pace," said Afia Law, the NFL international Flag football development manager. "Initiatives such as the Jets and Bears NFL Girls Flag league are fundamental to the sport's development here and to driving female participation. The experiences and friendships young people make today in flag football have the potential to last a lifetime, and we hope their stories can go on to inspire more and more young girls to find their place in the sport."

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