KEY WEST, Florida Keys — International teams of women and girls are set to converge on the playing field for exhilarating sports competition Tuesday through Tuesday, Jan. 22-29, during the 28th annual Kelly McGillis Classic International Women’s & Girls’ Flag Football Championship.
The sporting challenge also features cultural events including acting workshops and performances guided by tournament namesake Kelly McGillis, the critically acclaimed actor/director and former Key West resident who starred in “Top Gun” and “Witness” among other films.
According to Diane Beruldsen, president and founder of the International Women’s Flag Football Association, more than two dozen teams from the U.S. and countries including Afghanistan, India, Egypt, El Salvador, Sweden and Guatemala are scheduled to participate in the 2019 series of games.
Players ranging from 9 years old to seniors can compete in multiple divisions, develop their skills during flag football clinics and enjoy camaraderie during watersports excursions, team building and social activities.
Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 22-23, McGillis is to teach acting classes for flag football team members and members of the public, who can participate by submitting and performing monologues. They are to be presented live Wednesday at the Bottle Cap, 1200 Simonton St., during a 6-8 p.m.free-admission “Evening of Monologues.”
Other highlights include the second annual International Women’s Flag Football Conference and a Women’s Speaker Series focusing on life experiences and female empowerment. Scheduled speakers include McGillis; Sabria Mahboobi, who helped start the Afghanistan Women’s Flag Football League and will speak about women’s life in her country; and radio talk show host and leadership mentor Courtney Cruise.
The flag football tournament’s opening ceremonies are slated for 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at the Half Shell Raw Bar located at 231 Margaret St. Presentations by Key West officials and guest speakers are to be followed by cultural dances performed by participants from Central America, India and Egypt.
Kelly’s Players Parade down Key West’s Duval Street is planned just after the ceremonies. Players traditionally dress in team uniforms or costumes and carry their country or state flags or team banners in the spirited procession.
Games are to begin at 9 a.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at Wicker Field Sports Complex on Kennedy Drive. Sunday features playoffs and the World Challenge X Game, featuring USA team all-stars versus international all-stars.
Awards are to be presented Sunday night at the Turtle Kraals Restaurant & Bar, 231 Margaret St.
Viewing of all games as well as activities including clinics on how to play and officiate flag football are open to the public free of charge.
Event information: iwffa.com/kmc2019-itinerary/