The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers hosted a surprise jersey reveal for the recently launched Los Angeles League of Champions Girls Flag Football League.
"For us to have girls flag football at our school opens doors for us to have more opportunities to play sports," said a Lawndale High School's girls flag football player. "We don't really get the opportunities boys do and we don't get the same love when it comes to sports. I feel like this opens more opportunities for us, as women in the community, to play a sport and try new things."
Both of Los Angeles' NFL clubs invited all eight of the girls flag football teams to SoFi Stadium and revealed the new jerseys in the Rams and Chargers locker rooms.
"When we walked in the room, we initially expected to see the magic of what the locker room looks like, but to see that the Rams and Chargers had cared for us enough and set this up so that we actually got to see what it looks like for ourselves to be in a locker room and to have these uniforms so kindly given to our girls, to be able to keep them, was just the greatest gift," said Stephanie Kozofsky, Assistant Principal of Culture at Rise Kohyang High School. "Our girls don't have that much, the Christmas season is coming, and knowing that not only do they get to have a team this year, but they get to have such a beautiful gift… it was just the best thing we could have ended the semester of school with."
Rams and Chargers alumnus Brandon Manumaleuna briefly spoke to the players about the power of football and how creating access to the game is so important.
"They are breaking ground with this," said Manumaleuna about the league. "When you come here on Sundays, the stands are filled with just as many women as men and I think relationships and the comradery that's built through football shouldn't just be held by men. A lot of these women are great athletes, but sometimes women's sports don't get the same recognition as male sports. The Rams and Chargers bringing them in here and bridging that gap… a lot of these young ladies love football. It's something for them to be a part of, something to grow with, and a way to be a part of a positive group, especially in this day and age. There are so many different things pulling these young people away from the straight and narrow. Something like this will keep them going in the right direction."
The Los Angeles League of Champions Girls Flag Football season will kick off in January 2022. The Rams and Chargers are co-sponsoring the eight teams and providing players with uniforms (courtesy of Nike), stipends for coaches, coaching manuals, officials, athletic trainers, as well as equipment and transportation for the five-week season. Each team has 12 players, a coach and an assistant coach.
"As a school, we don't have a lot of money for an athletic program, so any sports and equipment we have is all by donation," said Kozofsky. "To hear that the Rams and the Chargers, who are both male teams, are willing to invest in girls flag football and have them get the chance to participate in a sport that I love so much, my dad was a coach, it shows how much they are giving back to the community and giving back to our kids."
The goal of the Los Angeles League of Champions Girls Flag Football is to develop a strategy to create more opportunities for young women to engage in the football and eventually sanction girls high school flag at the state level to open doors for scholarships and much more. The Rams and Chargers believe football is a game that develops transferrable life skills and strong character, promotes health and wellness, enhances opportunities to further education, and broadens perspectives while building a sense of community. The Rams and Chargers view girls flag football as a vehicle to create more pathways for young women in sports.
"It's about beginning with the end in mind," said Johnathan Franklin, Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development. "The Rams and Chargers have a collective goal of sanctioning girls flag football and creating access. Piloting the girls flag football league this season was a unique opportunity to create that platform for these eight teams and to create pathways that further education, but also create something bigger than football by uniting these communities and celebrating the diversity of all eight schools."
The league features teams from Crenshaw High School, Inglewood High School, Lawndale High School, Leuzinger High School, Morningside High School, Redondo Union High School, Rise Kohyang High School and YULA Girls High School. The season championship will be hosted at the official Super Bowl Experience ahead of Super Bowl LVI.
To learn more about the Rams' community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.