Kelly McGillis Int'l Women's Flag Football in Key West
Photos courtesy of IWFFA
Story by Olga Bas
The largest women's flag football tournament in the U.S. kicks off Feb. 1 in fabulous Key West, Fla. The 18th annual Kelly McGillis Classic is part of the second annual International Women’s & Girls' Flag Football Championship, featuring more than 30 international women's and girls' teams competing in eight-on-eight contact flag football.
The basic rules of the game are similar to those of American-style football, but instead of tackling players to the ground, the defensive team must remove a flag or flag belt from the ball carrier to end a down. This technique was implemented to minimize injuries, but, over the years, contact leagues, like the Kelly McGillis Classic, have emerged. The event takes its name from American actress and lesbian icon Kelly McGillis (The Accused, Top Gun), who is not only a sponsor, but is also playing on this year's "Loose Women" team.
The games are held over a four-day period with parties and social events taking place three days before the actual games begin. This year's events include a Super Bowl party at Iguana Café, a women's arm wrestling–competition, and the "Anything But Clothes" party. The day before the games begin, Key West's main downtown drag, Duval Street, closes to traffic and the teams participate in the IWFFA parade.