This spring, flag football was introduced to female students at Marc Garneau. It was an intense season that set a great start for the sport at MGCI.

This was the first year of the flag football team so the sport was open to any girls interested in participating, as a regular flag football team typically consisted of almost thirty players. This year’s coach, Mr. Fox, started team training in mid-April with practices held on Tuesday and Thursday mornings each week, to prepare the girls for the upcoming games in May and June.

Flag football is a complicated sport for new athletes to learn. During the game, teams have two lineups of twelve players: one offensive and one defensive. The offensive line includes the quarterback, and their goal is score touchdowns by running the football into opposing team’s endzone. When the ball is not in possession, the defensive line aims to stop the other team from advancing further on the field. Unlike regular football, there is no tackling in flag football. Instead, players wear a belt with three flags and play are stops when a flag is pulled off the belt of the player with possession of the ball.

Since this was a new sport for many schools in the TDSB, a two-day workshop and tournament was hosted for all the teams participating in this year’s league on 25 and 26 April 2019. During the two days, players learned various aspects of the game including how to properly punt, throw, and catch a football. There were also practice games organized for players to gain experience on the field.

The flag football team playing at Wexford CI.

Although the sport piqued the interest of many students, the team was short on players, with only sixteen girls becoming committed members. By May, the girls on the team felt much more comfortable with the sport. During the season, Garneau played five games against other schools from various regions in the TDSB, ending with two wins and three losses. In addition to securing a spot in quarterfinals, the teammates had developed a strong connection with each other.

Grade 12 player, Noor Fatima Azhar said, “I’ve gotten to bond with so many new people and the team honestly feels like a family now. Every player matters: there’s no member nor position that is more important than another which makes football a real team sport.”

With more experience in the sport, there was also a new found enjoyment for it. “What I love about football is how you have to strategize on the sport according to how the other team is playing,” said Noor, “Football has become a favorite sport of mine and I don’t think I will stop playing it any time soon.”

On 3 June 2019, Garneau won their quarter-final game against Earl Haig with a score of 7-6 and moved onto semi-finals at Lawrence Park. The team was unfortunately eliminated by Lawrence Park on 6 June 2019, ending their season in fourth place overall.

“It’s absolutely amazing how far we have come. We would often only have 12 players attending each game meaning we would be on the entire match. The fact that we were able to beat schools with teams the size of almost two classrooms is something to be extremely proud of,” said team captain Takwah Ahmad.

Even though the season ended for the girls, their friendships formed with each other and enjoyment for flag football were long-lasting.