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Taking football to a new level

The Steelers have made a commitment to growing opportunities for girl's flag football, and that was on display Sunday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

The team hosted their second Girls Flag Football Jamboree, with 100 girls in grades 7-12 taking part in the fun-filled instructional afternoon

"We are excited to provide this opportunity for high schools in Western Pennsylvania," said Steelers President Art Rooney II when the team first announced the event. "Flag Football is an exciting game, and already very popular in community programs, so it is great to provide high school girls with an opportunity to keep playing and represent their high school."

Former Steelers safety Jordan Dangerfield was on hand to provide instructions for the girls. Dangerfield also took part in a similar Girls Flag Football Jamboree the team held in November and loved the energy he saw on both occasions.

"It's about the fun they are having, but it's also amazing how competitive they are," said Dangerfield. "They are out there trying to learn and get better. It means a lot to help them out, teach them the game, introduce them to certain techniques and things we do as professionals. To see the smiles on their faces means everything. It's amazing to see what they are able to accomplish."

The team will also be hosting a pilot program for local high school girls in the spring. The program is aimed to encourage high schools to sanction girls flag football, which is the case in some states, but not Pennsylvania.

The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted a Girls Flag Football Jamboree at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex

"Girls Flag Football has been a big initiative from the NFL and other clubs," said Mike Marchinsky, the Steelers Youth and High School Football Marketing Manager. "Girls have been playing flag in different communities and organizations, it just wasn't at the high school level. We wanted to create these two jamborees, the one in November and this one, to create awareness and have the girls go back to their schools and say flag football is a blast, I want to play it in my high school.

"There are girls who played soccer and their footwork is really good, but they haven't used their hands in a sport. You can see they are super athletic and then you throw the ball to them, and they really can catch. A lot of schools had flag games with their powder puff leagues and they have experience. Then you have younger girls who watched their brothers, or watched games on television, and they are excited for it. It's a really cool reset when you see new excitement for the same game."

The Steelers helped to sponsor a trip to the Pro Bowl for a group of girls from Pittsburgh Flag Football, who participated in the Flag Football National Championship as a part of Pro Bowl activities and represented the organization.

"They sent us emails telling us it was the greatest experience," said Marchinsky. "They said it was their favorite experience in sports. There was some really cool feedback. We are right on the beginning of making this a reality for the girls.

"With all of this, everyone is super excited. The looks on their faces when a girl who hasn't played a bunch and caught a touchdown pass was priceless. If we could have bottled that and sold it as that's why we do what we do, that is why we do what we do. That reaction."

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