Island Empire, an all-girls flag football team, will play at halftime of the 2023 East-West Shrine Game on Thursday at Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders.
The opportunity arose for Island Empire when they became the first all-girls team from Hawaii to win the Flag Football Life national championship in Tampa, Fla. last year. From there, the team won a regional competition to represent the Arizona Cardinals at the upcoming NFL Pro Bowl Games. In addition to Thursday, they’ll also play on Friday and Saturday as part of the Pro Bowl games festivities.
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Island Empire was one of just six teams nationally selected to have the opportunity to play on Thursday. The hope for Island Empire is to have some of its players compete for the junior U.S. national team. High school flag football is not a sanctioned sport in Hawaii, but it is in seven different states.
“They haven’t played that long together,” head coach Ed Cera told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “We just put this team together like maybe a year or year and a half ago and now we’re in a league that we’re just playing against boys.
“Small island, small island girls. We represent and do what we can to represent our state.”
“I think everything is exciting. Just going out there and playing and getting the opportunity,” added Hayden Kaahanui-Cera, one of the team’s players. “The NFL is a big league and I’ve watched it on TV and so getting the opportunity to know people and go out there is really exciting.
“It’s really exciting because we’re know as just a small island in the middle of the pacific and I think going out there really shows that we’re not just some small islands. We’re big and well known.”
The Island Empire roster is below: