More than 200 youth flag football teams gathered at Walt Disney World Resort to compete in the first-ever American Flag Football League Youth World Championships on Jan. 21-22, 2023. Teams from 30 states and four countries battled it out at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Boys and girls teams ages 5 to 17 years old went head to-head to see who would be crowned World Champions in front of thousands of fans. The Championship games were also streamed live on ESPN3 and can still be seen on demand on the ESPN app.
In the end, 17 new World Champions were crowned along with seven National Champions from Hawaii, Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Texas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, Connecticut, Panama, Mexico and Canada. Registration is now open (www.zortssports.com) for the 2024 World Championships which will be held Jan. 20-21.
“We are expecting to double in numbers after a great first event,” AFFL Youth CEO Austin Bradshaw stated. “It was a once in a lifetime experience for a lot of teams and families. It was also great to see everyone hanging out and having fun at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, which were great accommodations for the event. Watching the Championship games on ESPN was a dream come true. Who would have ever thought six-year-old flag football games would be on TV? We saw east coast vs. west coast matchups, north vs. south matchups and classics like Boston vs. New York, we even saw Mexico vs. Panama. It was incredible to watch and the atmosphere was electric.”
More than 40 girls teams ages 7 to 17 years old also participated. Every year, more high schools and colleges add female flag football as a recognized sport. There is also an effort to add the flag football to the Olympics in 2028 creating even more opportunities for players and fans.