A grade 12 student from Steinbach won gold with Team Manitoba at the National Flag Football Championship this past weekend. 

Skylar Cudney says he has been playing tackle football for the last nine years and just finished his last season with the Steinbach Regional Secondary School Sabres this past fall.  

“I was thinking, ‘what am I going to do after this?’ Then my mom said 'there's this flag thing in Winnipeg, and you should totally try it'. I honestly thought ‘it's going to be kind of like kiddish’. I thought there was going to be little kids there and then I just went for it, and it was actually a really good experience.” 

Cudney says he now understands why flag football is growing in popularity.  

“When you're playing tackle, you're wearing pads and all these things, but with flag, you can play with anyone, you’re wearing a T-shirt, shorts, you're ready to go. It's a lot more fun in the way of being safe, and it's not like I'm concerned about that, it's just that I feel like it's going to grow really big because of the injuries that you get from tackle.” 

a young, white man in a flag football uniform smilesSkylar Cudney says one of the benefits of flag football is how little gear you need and how easy it is to pick up. Photo credit: Corey Hanssen.

When Cudney first got involved, he joined a flag football camp, then spent a couple of weeks at the Team Manitoba tryouts before being accepted. This past weekend, Cudney travelled with Team Manitoba to Kingston, Ontario for the national tournament. 

“I had mixed feelings going into it. I didn't know what was happening, I just knew I was going to play football and I was super excited about that.” 

A lot of the teams from other provinces were very intimidating, but Cudney says their coaches did a great job of building team spirit and mental toughness. As a result, he says the team went on a tear and won gold.  

“The tournament itself was actually amazing, we went 6 and 0, and all of our games, our point differential between the teams was about 40 points, so we were blowing them out of the water.” 

Cudney says the whole experience was a blast and he’ll definitely encourage his friends to try flag football. 

“I would love to play it going forward and if I could have the chance to play tackle I would also do that. I've loved football the whole time I've played but I feel like the funnest I've ever had, was this year playing flag.” 

He adds “I even heard that it's going to be coming to the Olympics soon and it's awesome actually.”