HOUSTON - Girls tackle football leagues have already taken off in at least two other states. Some girls are ready to hit the turf in Texas but haven’t had the opportunity.
The new Texas Girls Tackle Football League is looking to change that.
Saturday afternoon, families from across the state and the Houston area swapped stories of their girls having to jump hurdles to play the game or not being welcomed on boys’ teams.
“I remember some girls showing up on the football field one day, and next thing you know, they were gone,” recalls one parent.
Most girls who came to the new league’s informational meeting have played flag football or joined boys’ teams to get in on tackle football. Peyton Watson played tackle football through middle school. Always the only girl on the team, she gained national attention with her “Tuff Girl” shirt fundraiser for her grandmother’s cancer battle and was even invited to the Super Bowl.
But she says coaches discouraged her from participating when she got to high school.
“It kind of brought me down where I didn’t want to play,” she says. The girls often also get blocked by the same safety concerns that are blown off with boys.
“As a dad you wonder if they take that first hit, how are they going to get back up?” says one father.
The new league is offering a new route to full-contact play for 7 to 17-year-old girls.
“They feel like the boys are too tough, too rough and don’t feel like it’s an equal playing field,” says president and founder Kesha Smith of concerns she’s heard from parents. “That’s why I’m trying to change that, to give the girls an opportunity to play against girls.”
Houston Energy pro football players who help run the league hope to launch new teams by fall while potential TGTF players offer motivation for other girls looking to join a league of their own.
“You can do it,” says Watson. “Don’t hold back because guys are telling you you can’t. Fight for what you want.”
The league plans to start seven teams throughout the Houston area. Smith says all they need to get started is plenty of participation.
Visit their website for more information about signing up.