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    The Return of Bay Area LGBT Flag Football

    By John Chen–

    Football season has officially begun! Arguably the most exciting time of the year for sports fans, football is the most popular sport in our country and brings tremendous amount of camaraderie, celebration, and commiseration with the college and pro games in full swing. Go UCLA Bruins! And yes, this is a blatant and shameless plug for my alma mater.

    Recently, the San Francisco Gay Flag Football League (SFGFFL) has been given the thumbs up to resume. SFGFFL Commissioner Colin Sng proudly pointed out to me for the San Francisco Bay Times: “In order for the league to happen, we had to adhere to San Francisco Department of Public Health guidelines. The league made some significant modifications to the game because flag football is naturally a contact sport. For example, we eliminated blocking, normally a major part of football. This may seem like an egregious compromise, but hey, we still get to play football and in a form that’s safe for all the players.”

    Sng added, “Our league welcomes players of all levels, ages, sizes, gender identifications, and abilities. We are about building an LGBT football community that also includes friends, family, supporters, and allies. However, all players must show proof of vaccination or be tested negative three days before participating in any game. We will not make any exceptions. The protection of everyone involved in the league outweighs the alternative.”

    Brennan Doucet, a nurse who moved to San Francisco from Louisiana a couple of years ago, finally decided to try football for the first time. Doucet said, “Coming from the South, where football is considered a religion, I always wanted to learn how to play. I watched countless games on TV and loved the excitement and the sheer athleticism it takes to compete. Here in San Francisco, after caring for so many patients and not [having the opportunity] to make friends over the last year and a half, I just wanted to meet people and get to know the city. So, I told myself to go for it. I joined [SFGFFL].”

    Doucet continued, “It turns out, football is way more complex than I thought, and football talk among players is like a foreign language. I was a bit overwhelmed, but I love it! Also, football is a true team sport where communication and camaraderie are keys to success. The thing I really like about [SFGFFL] is the community they’ve built. It’s not about how good or athletic you are. It’s about welcoming you to be a part of their football community.”

    Marti Davis was a rugby player in college and officiated flag football in Atlanta, although she never played football. Davis said, “I really wanted to play football in Atlanta, but then the pandemic happened. So, when I moved to San Francisco three months ago, I immediately looked up gay football and found SFGFFL on Instagram. At first, I was nervous being a woman in a men dominated league, but Andrew [Aquino, Recruitment Director] assured me that there were many other women playing. What sold me on the league was my first day at the ‘mini-camp.’ All the guys introduced themselves and were so welcoming. They made me feel so comfortable and I never felt weird for being a woman among men out there. Right away, all my anxieties melted away. It was awesome and fun!”

    Alex Ceballos, a native Southern Californian now living in the East Bay, really wanted to get out and run around on a big field, try a new sport, and make new friends once the pandemic restrictions have been lessened. Ceballos said, “I looked at rugby and volleyball, but Andrew [Aquino] was super responsive, connected with me, and made me feel like [SFGFFL] is well organized so I decided to give football a shot.”

    “In the beginning,” he added, “I was worried that the guys may be overly competitive, but everyone’s very nice and competitive in a positive and supportive way. I am a social person, so playing on a team that is in a social league suits me perfectly. I really like how the veteran players take the time to help me and break the game down for me. And I really like how the league is building a whole community around football.”

    For more information on SFGFFL, see SFGFFL on Facebook and Instagram and visit: http://sfgffl.leagueapps.com/

    John Chen, a UCLA alumnus and an avid sports fan, has competed as well as coached tennis, volleyball, softball, and football teams.

    Published on September 23, 2021