Flag Football, the unknown Olympic sport in which Spain is a power

10/18/2023 at 12:14


The IOC announced on Monday the new sports that will debut at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games

Flag football is a type of American football, but without contact between the players

The International Olympic Committee announced on Monday the sports that will debut at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games. All considered, at least in Europe, as minority and little known. Among them is the flag football, a type of American football, but without contact. The players wear ribbons hanging from their belts and tearing them off is equivalent to a tackle.

Although this sport is clearly a minority, Spain is an international power, especially in the women’s competition, and Asturias occupies a prominent place on the national scene.

One team, the Gijón Mariners women’s team, has won the Spanish competition several times and currently its coach Daniel Castanon He is also the national coach. Furthermore, two of its players, Estefanía Sastre and María Vidal, along with the Oviedo Phoenix player Emma García, are part of the Spanish team that in the last three editions of the European Championship has achieved a bronze medal, a gold medal and another silver.


For Daniel Castanon “Not only the Mariners but for all of us who dedicate ourselves to this sport we hope that being chosen as an Olympic sport will be an accolade.” According to the coach, “this sport has been growing a lot around the world and an example is that it has entered the Olympic program. If people know about it, surely more boys and girls will practice it.” For Castañón, flag football has advantages over American football since “it is much cheaper because it requires fewer resources. It does not need any type of equipment, there are no contacts, it is more about speed and agility, but it has everything else that football entails.” like passes or runs. That spectacularity remains.

On the right, Emma at a game.

| EG

Currently in Asturias there are four clubs that practice this modality, two in Gijón, Mariners and Norteños, and two in Oviedo, Madbulls and Phoenix, but according to Castañón “from the Asturian Federation we are working to extend it to the rest of Asturias. Now things have been done in Avilés”. Precisely, the Asturian Federation organizes “a Northern League in which the Asturian teams are involved and last season there were also teams from Cantabria and Galicia. We also have a children’s League and an under-17 League. Little by little we are growing.”

For Emma Garcia Being an Olympic sport, he hopes that “it will help it to have more visibility and that we can have more material and financial aid, and that this sport reaches more and more people.” For this Asturian international, this Olympic recognition may come a little late since there are five years left until the Games. “Perhaps for me it is late since I have been in the national team for ten years and I am old, but it is never too late for the rest. I am very happy for the rest. Regardless of who goes, whoever does it goes in the best conditions, which is what I fight for,” Emma acknowledges.


Spain is a power in Europe and is making a name for itself in the world. “There have been four world championships, but we have not gone to two due to financial problems. In the last world championship, which was in December 2021 in Jerusalem, we finished ninth and could not get into the top eight due to the game system. “We only lost to the United States, who in the end were champions. We tied with France, who left us out due to points difference, but the level is similar.”

Daniel Castanon considers that “at the world level in women, the best are the United States and Mexico. In fact, they have a lot of competition between them because in the United States, children already practice American football from a young age, but in Mexico they start with the flag and have a high level. “His team was champion of the World Games, for example. In Europe we have Spain, Austria and Great Britain always fighting for medals.”

The Gijón Mariners have a flag football school open to boys and girls from the age of six. Training takes place on the rugby field of the Universidad Laboral.

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