Girls flag football league introduced in Michigan

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Metro | Published February 22, 2023

 A Broncos ball-carrier is all smiles as she attempts to find the endzone.

A Broncos ball-carrier is all smiles as she attempts to find the endzone.

Photo provided by Genevieve Caffelli

 The Birmingham/Bloomfield SNAP Flag Football League offers the first-ever all-girls flag football league in the state of Michigan.

The Birmingham/Bloomfield SNAP Flag Football League offers the first-ever all-girls flag football league in the state of Michigan.

Photo provided by Genevieve Caffelli


BIRMINGHAM — Boise State University perfected one of the most iconic Statue of Liberty plays during the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against the University of Oklahoma, but what if I told you that a group of girls in the SNAP Flag Football League did it better?

Sure, Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky’s handoff to running back Ian Johnson converted a game-winning two-point conversion, but it didn’t go for a 40-yard touchdown like Dr. Zafar Shamoon’s team of all girls perfected last season.

“Just because you hear the word football or play football, it’s just not for boys anymore,” SNAPtivities founder and president Genevieve Caffelli said. “Us girls can do it too.”

Shamoon is a parent-volunteer coach in the Birmingham/Bloomfield SNAP Flag Football League that features 5-on-5 football with rosters of 7-10 players who range in grade level from first to fifth grade. There’s only one thing that separates this league from any other league in the state of Michigan: Girls run this field.

Shamoon, the chief of the emergency department at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn, first got involved with the league because of his son, Ibrahim, but found out there was an opportunity for his daughter, Selena, to make an impact on the field.

“It started with my son, because he wanted to play football, so I reached out to coach Genevieve (Caffelli),” Shamoon said. “I really love football, and I wanted to coach, so I asked if I could coach. She then told me that she was trying to start a girls league, so I had my daughter and a couple of her friends, and then Genevieve sent me some girls. Let me tell you, these girls are really talented.”

For 25 years, Caffelli has brought flag football to the Birmingham/Bloomfield area through her SNAPtivities program, which is in conjunction with the National Football League Flag Football League.

Caffelli, a Bloomfield Hills High School and Oakland University graduate, started SNAPtivities in 1988, revolving around various youth programs, but noticed something was missing.

“I finally got to the point where it was like, ‘We need to get more football around here,’” Caffelli said.

Fast-forward to 2023, the SNAP Flag Football League is offering the first-ever girls-only flag football league in Michigan.

Running plays like ‘snowball’ and ‘rainbow,’ the girls’ systematic play on the field shows it’s their time to take over the gridiron.

Shamoon’s team faced off against the boys twice last season, and said the girls have become the crowd favorites.

“There was one game in particular where we were trying to win against the boys, and there were parents from other games watching their kids play, and they came over and were watching our game and cheering the girls on,” Shamoon said.

Shamoon’s team finished 4-2, with both losses to the boys, but the girls provided a hard-fought battle that only motivated them moving forward.

Each year the confidence builds, but the camaraderie is what has really impressed Shamoon.

Not only do the girls now understand the game from a broad perspective, but Shamoon said they’re understanding the ins and outs.

“When we first started, a lot of them were very timid and weren’t sure,” Shamoon said. “Last year, all of my girls scored at least two or three touchdowns. What I’m most proud of is that everyone knows why they scored a touchdown. It wasn’t just the one girl who scored the touchdown, but they all know they couldn’t do it without each other.”

The league couldn’t do it without the help of the community, and Caffelli puts heavy emphasis on the community’s importance, with half the profits from the league going back to Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham public schools.

Birmingham Seaholm and Bloomfield Hills High School host the games throughout the season.

All coaches are parent-volunteer coaches, and referees are hired through the SNAP Flag Football League, with most being former SNAP players.

It’s the community-driven league that Caffelli said she always wanted to establish.

“I really try to build community, community, community; it’s the biggest thing,” Caffelli said. “These kids, a lot of them are going to be together for 10-12 years, so I’d like for them to get used to one another.”

The league starts in mid-April, with the final day of registration being April 2. NFL official reversible jerseys are provided to players, and players only need to purchase a mouthguard before the season.

Visit for more information on the boys and girls leagues.

“I wish people knew about this, because I tell people at work and they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome,’” Shamoon said. “I really hope it spreads out, because I think people would really love this.”