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Tackling Stereotypes: How Diana Flores Is Changing the Game in Flag Football

 Sports, diana flores, flag football.
Sports, diana flores, flag football.

"How hard can it be? Boys do it." This phrase echoes throughout TikTok, resonating as a testament to the extraordinary stories of women breaking barriers in fields traditionally dominated by men—be it engineering, mechanics, or construction. And in the world of professional flag football, Diana Flores is the epitome of that sentiment. As the captain and quarterback of the Mexico national team, the powerhouse is putting a sport that was once overlooked on the map and proving she's a force to be reckoned with.

You might be familiar with Flores from her captivating Super Bowl commercial that aired to over 100 million people in 2023, but she's been making waves recently that you're going to want to keep up with. I got to sit down with the Forbes 30 Under 30 athlete for an exclusive interview to talk about her groundbreaking partnership with Under Armour, the 2028 Olympics (yep, you read that right—flag football is officially coming to the Olympics), and what it means to be a trailblazer in women's professional sports. And her story is inspiring to say the least. Dive into our conversation below.

sports, diana flores, flag football
sports, diana flores, flag football

Marie Claire: Diana! It's so great getting to chat with you. I know Super Bowl season must be busy. What's on your agenda for the two weeks leading up to the big game? 

Diana Flores: I was with Under Armour this week in Miami! I can't tell you exactly what I was doing, but you'll see soon. I'm super excited for what's yet to come with the brand. I'm heading to the Pro Bowl after this, and I'm going to be part of some panels to talk about the world of flag football and the importance of female representation in the sport. Then I fly from Florida to Vegas for the Super Bowl. I'm going to be presenting the game as an analyst with Univision. It'll be the first time Univision is broadcasting the game in Spanish in the U.S., so it's going to be a big moment, and I am so happy to be a part of that.

MC: You've had an incredible journey in professional flag football. What initially sparked your passion for the sport, and how did you decide to pursue it as a career?

DF: I started playing at 8 years old. Back then, flag football was not a very popular sport. I started in Mexico City, but it was not a big thing anywhere. I started because of my dad—he used to play tackle football and introduced me to this amazing world. I started playing with 16- and 17-year-old girls when I was only 8 because back then, it was the only way for me to play this sport. At the age of 14, I started playing in the all-boys league as the only girl. And that's when the challenges started because I started growing up and realizing that was not as normal as I thought it was. Also at that age, I started traveling to the U.S. to play with a team from Philadelphia. Again, I started to realize, wow, there are a lot of barriers to break here. Then at the age of 16, I got to be part of the national team. And I feel that every step of my journey just made me realize how a lot of things had to change, and I had the power to make a bigger impact than for just myself.

MC: I'm sure it wasn't easy becoming the quarterback and captain of the Mexico women's national flag football team, but you seem pretty damn fearless. Can you share a specific moment when your fearlessness played a crucial role in overcoming adversity on the field?

DF: Along my journey, I have had different moments when not only being resilient but also the support from the people around me helped me keep going. And I've learned that having a strong support system—having allies and having people who believe in you—is very, very important. For me, being part of the national team has been a long journey. I've been on the team for 10 years but have been QB 1 only since 2021.

In the beginning, I was the youngest player—I was the rookie. So I ended up as wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback center—so many other positions, but never mine. Even though I knew that's what I wanted to do. I kept hearing, "You're small. You're not as tall as a QB should be. You're not as strong as a QB should be. You're not as—whatever." And at some point, I started to doubt myself because if all the world is telling you one thing and you're not achieving what you want, maybe the world is right. But what I've learned from that is you might not get what you want in the time you think you deserve it, but that doesn't mean that it will not come to you. I just started to remember why I was doing what I was doing. I love it. It makes me feel happy. I'm passionate about it. I love representing my country. I love wearing my colors. By 2021, I got to be QB 1. And after 10 years, Mexico got to play another championship game with me as the leader of the team. Six months later, we won the gold medal. So, I mean, you never know what you're going to have in front of you. Just keep going.

MC: In professional sports, ambition is key to reaching the next level. What drives you to continually push yourself?

DF: I feel that what drives me has changed during my time. In the beginning, it was being the best player on the field, then being part of the national team representing my country, winning a medal—blah, blah, blah, blah. Right now, I feel that what drives me is to be able to make a change, to make a difference, and to inspire others to achieve their dreams. When I was a little 8-year-old girl in Mexico City, I never dreamed I could be living the life I am right now. I never saw someone who looked like me playing my sport—a Latina on the big stage was not realistic. But now the little girls can see that it's possible. They can put their minds to it. And I cannot imagine where they're going to get now knowing that they can dream bigger than ever.

sports, diana flores, flag football
sports, diana flores, flag football

MC: How do you deal with losing games? How do you continue to push forward?

DF: It is always a process, and we're always evolving. I keep learning, getting better, and finding better solutions. What I've learned through time is to have compassion for myself. I'm an athlete, I am competitive, and I want to be perfect, but I've accepted that I can have a bad day. And it doesn't mean that I am not ready or that I don't deserve or don't belong. It's just a bad day. Sometimes you just have to have faith in the journeys you visualize for yourself and know that everything that you do is just a step in the process to achieving that goal. Even if you fail, even if you're down right now, you never know what two steps forward can bring.

MC: You had a killer year last year: a Super Bowl commercial, teaming up with Peyton Manning in the Pro Bowl Games, a Sports Emmy, and global ambassador of Under Armour. You make it look easy. Can you tell us what exciting things are in the works for the coming years?

DF: Well, flag football is now in the Olympics in 2028. That's a dream come true. I've always dreamed of that since I was little, but I could not even imagine it becoming a reality. I just feel proud and happy to be part of that, not only as a player but also with the NFL and IFAF making that happen. That's one of the biggest achievements of my life.

And another thing that makes me feel excited and grateful is having amazing partnerships. I never, ever imagined I could have that kind of impact or allies on this journey—people who believed in giving opportunities to the next generation of girls. And thinking of what's yet to come, I'd love to create different clinics for girls, making this sport more accessible for boys and girls. That's one of my missions, to keep giving back to the sport and the girls and to create opportunities alongside the amazing people around me.

MC: How did your partnership with Under Armour develop, and what's it like to work with the brand's top-level gear?

DF: Of course, one of my dreams since I was little was to be a sponsored athlete, you know? And I shared this dream with my younger brother. After my first World Cup at the age of 16, my brother was like, "Diana, we should start looking for a sponsorship for you. I feel you can be there. You can get it." It never seemed like a possibility to me for so many reasons. I never saw a Latina in the spotlight. It was flag football, which is American football, which is a man's sport, and not even a big sport. So I tried a couple of times to have conversations with brands, and no one cared about women's flag football. I lost faith in that dream, but my brother didn't. He was 13, and he started putting together my highlight reel at that time. I remember he was so excited that he found an Under Armour contact. He sent in my highlight reel every six months from 2016 to 2020. So it was even more special when I got this partnership with Under Armour and had an opportunity to tell my brother. The first Under Armour campaign was the first time that it all felt real. I was getting to be a part of these amazing things that I used to watch when I was little. I was that woman up there feeling strong and powerful.

It's funny because I have pictures at the age of 10 wearing Under Armour heat gear, and sometimes I couldn't afford an Under Armour thing. So my mom and dad used to find similar things. But now, getting to wear their gear every championship, every World Cup, and every important tournament makes it more special.

sports, diana flores, flag football
sports, diana flores, flag football

MC: What inspired you to get involved with coaching at the UA Next All-America Flag Football Camp with Under Armour?

DF: [I was inspired by] the mission of opening new doors and Under Armour's commitment to making this sport more accessible for the next generation, to giving them the best opportunities, the best coaches, the best gear, to developing their skills and achieving the best versions of themselves. I mean, that's something I really wish I had when I was young. So it made me feel really happy to see over 100 girls in the same place willing to learn, grow, and have a great time playing flag football. I had the opportunity to bring my dad to that day, too. And it was the best thing because we were both blown away by what was happening. I know he tried so hard to take me to different clinics or anything that he could find, but we couldn't. So to be able to work alongside Under Armour and give these clinics to the girls was just a big way to say thank you and to work on the same mission.

MC: Can you share your coaching philosophy at the UA Next All-America Flag Football Camp with Under Armour and your approach to working with young athletes?

DF: What I tried to do with the girls was empower them. Sometimes, I feel that it is important to learn new skills, to learn new things, and always try to be your best version. But sometimes, I feel that the most important thing is to remember that we're powerful, strong, and capable of doing anything we want. I want them to know that they can compete, that they can be rude, and that there's no barrier for them. So for me, it was all about empowerment. It was all about not being afraid of being themselves with the world and showing their passion.

MC: Reflecting on your journey so far, what advice would you give to your younger self? What advice would you give to aspiring female athletes?

DF: Remember who you are. Remember that you're powerful. Stay true to yourself. Stay true to what makes you feel happy and what makes your heart beat because that's the way even if you didn't see the light today. I promise you that you will find amazing people along your journey. And there's no better way to achieve [your dreams] than by walking the same path with others. So be the one that also gives a hand to others to work on that journey. And dream big because dreams come true. And if you prepare and focus on your goals, life can surprise you and be even bigger and brighter than your dreams.

MC: What legacy do you hope to leave behind both on and off the field, and how do you plan to continue empowering women?

DF: I want to make a change. I want to keep being part of this movement of change that is already happening with women in sports and with women's empowerment on and off the field. I feel honored to be part of that. And I just want to keep contributing, to keep breaking barriers, to keep building opportunities. And I want to keep building connections with amazing people willing to make this change, too.