Adrienne Smith needs a massive spreadsheet to manage her time. It’s not easy helping start a women’s flag football division while still playing for two different football teams too.
“That’s probably why I’m so tired,” Smith said. “I love the sport and I can still play and I want to contribute. And there’s no complaints. I’m living my best life.”
That’s why the American Flag Football League tabbed the New York City woman to oversee football operations of its new women’s division.
Smith loved football so much she used to tackle a stuffed bear while watching the NFL on TV as a child. She has been a top wide receiver playing tackle football since 2006 winning three women’s titles, and she currently plays for the Boston Renegades.
She also has competed internationally with the U.S. women’s national flag football team and currently plays for the Merrimack Valley Smoke flag football team in the Boston area as well.
Playing football has meant women paying for the opportunity. Women’s tackle football leagues and teams with sponsors help cover expenses such as transportation or rental fees for fields.
That’s why Smith wanted to work for the AFFL. This league will pay the champs of the new women’s division exactly what the team gets for winning the men’s tournament this season — $200,000.
“I’m very proud that the AFFL has said from Day 1 with the inaugural season in which women are included, there’s going to be pay equity,” Smith said.
The women’s division is starting small with eight teams in its tournament starting Aug. 21. The men’s tournament will have 32 teams in its tournament. The first women’s qualifier starts April 30 in Florida with another in New York on May 29.
The AFFL has had former NFL and Division I football players along with Olympic athletes and others play since 2016. Smith said the women’s division also is attracting players who were D-I athletes in other sports. Others have been or currently play on the U.S. women’s national football team.
Smith also is in charge of corporate partnerships for the AFFL with the women’s division, and she said they’re getting good interest from companies.
The AFFL also hired Michelle Roque to handle social media for the league and marketing for the women’s division. Roque and Smith were teammates on the 2016 U.S. national flag football team.
The league also is working to include female officials in the qualifiers to grow that pool while offering women another way to take part in the game. Smith said she wants girls to watch these games and be able to say there’s a place for them in the league.
“We love the sport and want to grow it for women,” Smith said.
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