The Utah Girls Tackle Football League tackled gender barriers when it allowed young girls to play contact football beginning May 23. The Salt Lake City-based league is believed to be the first girls-only full contact tackle organization in the United States.
Crystal Sacco, who played female tackle football as an adult, is serving as president of the UGTFL. "This league was created in response to a high demand from the girls to play the sport in a league of their own," Sacco said in a press release. "The league reached its maximum participants within five days of the announcement." Sacco founded the league with help from Samantha Rapoport, director of football development at USA Football, and Brent Gordon, father of Sam Gordon.
In 2012, Sam Gordon gained attention after her tackle football highlights in a boy's league went viral. This led to an invitation to Super Bowl XLVII from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and an appearance on a box of Wheaties cereal. She will also be participating in the UGTFL.
"My friends were so excited to play football they said they couldn't sleep the night before orientation," she said.
The all-girls tackle football league is made up of 50 fifth and sixth-grade girls who are divided among four teams. They will compete in three games using 8-player football rules.
"The best part was hearing from parents who approached me to tell me how grateful they were that we started this league," Brent Gordon said in a press release. "Their daughters had been begging them to play tackle football, but parents were concerned about letting them play with the boys. That's what this league is all about: fulfilling the dreams of girls who want to play football."