IFAF leaders see flag football shine on its biggest-ever stage at the NFL Pro Bowl Games

The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) family was strongly represented in Las Vegas as the new-look NFL Pro Bowl Games showcased flag football to a record 58,331 crowd at Allegiant Stadium.

The state-of-the-art venue, which will play host to the Super Bowl in 2024, was the stage for the National Football League’s (NFL) annual all-star showcase on Sunday – the first to take place in a new format centered on flag football.

The short-format, gender-equal, non-contact version of football is at the heart of an innovative partnership between IFAF and the NFL, which seeks to further accelerate the sport’s rapid worldwide development and includes the goal of inclusion in the Olympic Games.

The Pro Bowl, which features the leading NFL athletes each year, has been reimagined from 2023 as a week-long festival of flag football, with additional activities including the NFL Flag national and international age-group championships.

AFC Offensive Coordinator, Mexico star quarterback and IFAF Athletes’ Committee Chair, Diana Flores, chats to AFC teammate and Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the sidelines of the 2023 Pro Bowl Games at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas | photo courtesy of NFL

Sunday’s main event saw an all-star team representing the National Football Conference run out winners over the American Football Conference in a highly engaging contest that centered on three back-to-back flag football games, enthralling the vocal crowd.

Two of IFAF’s all-time great athletes, women’s flag quarterbacks Diana Flores (Mexico) and Vanita Krouch (USA), played a high-profile role as offensive coordinators on the opposing coaching teams, while one of IFAF’s most experienced flag football referees, the USA’s Desiree Abrams, oversaw proceedings from the middle of the field. The trio formed part of an all-star cast that included head coaches Peyton and Eli Manning alongside honorary team captains, flag fans Snoop Dogg and comedian Pete Davidson.

Meanwhile a senior IFAF delegation led by President Pierre Trochet, Managing Director Andy Fuller and IFAF Board Member and Director of Competitions, Roope Noronen, President of the Finnish American Football Association (SAJL), travelled to Las Vegas as part of a mission to share insights and gain operational knowledge about the high-profile event, one of the high points of the NFL calendar.

All-star AFC vs NFC flag football game in front of a record crowd as part of the NFL’s reimagined 2023 Pro Bowl Games at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas | photo courtesy of NFL

It comes at a time when planning is stepping up for next year’s IFAF Flag Football World Championships in Lahti, Finland. The 2024 World Championships will be the biggest to date and the first fully gender-equal edition, serving as the climax of the biggest-ever international cycle of flag football competition, including regional competition for every continent for the first time.

IFAF President, Pierre Trochet, said:

“We are very proud of our IFAF athletes and official who have played their part, together with the NFL stars, in showcasing the exciting sport of flag football to an audience of millions here in Las Vegas. For us, as a federation, this has also been an invaluable opportunity to observe the NFL’s world-leading approach to sport presentation and fan experience, which will aid preparations for next year’s landmark Flag Football World Championships in Finland – the biggest and most exciting to-date.

“Under our Vision28 strategy we are determined to drive forward the global growth and development of flag football, and the Pro Bowl Games 2023 is a clear indication of the NFL’s commitment to that shared goal. We will take the learnings from this event and use that insight, along with our experience at The World Games in Birmingham last year, to keep the momentum going.”

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