International Federation of American Football Championship Debuts In Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An Olympic sized event is underway right in our back yard.
Flag football teams representing their countries from all over the western hemisphere met in Charlotte for the first ever I.F.A.F. championship.
Charlotte is home to the first ever championship tournament for the International Federation of American Football. Right down the road from the U.S. Performance Center, the event is hosted by USA Football, an organization created around tackle football, now switching gears to include the fast evolving sport of flag football.
“We gotta grow that sort of middle section of the east coast and again because Charlotte is so supportive, we said this is a great place to kick this off and then grow the base grow the interest, make all of these teams aware of how great the city is and the state is in supporting flag football,” said Scott Hallenbeck, the CEO of USA Football and the vice president of I.F.A.F.
The I.F.A.F Championship pits men’s and women’s teams from North and South America up against each other. The elite flag squads are made up of athletes of all ages and backgrounds.
“Well one thing my college coaches would say and it stuck with me with flag football is to be quick but not in a hurry. So that is one thing I do with flag, I try to be real quick I still try to play fast but not be in too much of a hurry because of the different rules that they have,” said Bruce Mapp, a wideout with the USA team, and with Coastal Carolina from 2013 to 2016.
This created a unique opportunity to two players on the U.S national women’s team. Madison Fulford grew up right down the road, and the homecoming is a dream come true.
“Amazing! So I saw my middle school basketball coach here, my high school basketball coach here, like a bunch of family members are here so it is just super surreal and like a dream honestly,” said Fulford, a wide receiver and an alumnus of Jay M. Robinson High School.
Fulford picked up her passion for flag football while stationed in Texas, playing while out on the base. She never considered the sport, and wants to bring awareness to the next generation.
“Yeah it is awesome, I really hope to see younger girls out here. I think when people hear flag football they think of the powder puff version but if you come out here and see head tops, hipping and dipping, breaking ankles, it is way more elite and fast paced than people think so if people just take the chance on it just come out here and see it, I think a lot of girls are going to be interested,” said Fulford.
Amber Clark is from Greenville, she grew up playing football, and for her the chance to compete at the national level is like playing for the Panthers.
“It is indescribable like I said. I have always wanted to play at the highest level. I have always wanted to play football and now to hear you get to represent your national team, it is just a blessing, it has no words,” said Clark.
Wednesday, July 5, 2023, was just the first day of a three day tournament with more to follow, the two hometown products hope to put on a show for all in attendance.
You can find more information on the games and the tournament here.