UKFirstdown.co.uk
UKFirstdown.co.uk
27.04.2016
UKFirstdown
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Article by Oxford Saints Over the past few weeks the Saints have been working closely to establish a new opportunity to expand American Football in Oxfordshire. Following huge support and enthusiasm from the Witney Angels rugby club, we are now thrilled to offer training sessions for women who wish to give this exciting and growing sport a try. First Training Session On Tuesday evening 10th May, we’ll be hosting the very first Oxford Saints Women’s session. This will focus on introducing players to the club and we’ll be teaching the basics of the game from throwing, catching, footwork and other foundation skills. The women’s team will sit within the already well established Oxford Saints infrastructure and will be fully supported by the club in terms of logistics, marketing and staff resources. Chairman Andrew Peart: “The Saints are delighted to support our new women’s team. We’ve seen phenomenal levels of enthusiasm from potential players. We’re fully committed to doing everything we can to ensure this enthusiasm transfers into team success." The Saints will be creating opportunities for the women’s team to compete in both flag and contact competitions. The inaugural session for Oxford Saints Women will be held at the club’s new home venue, under the floodlights at Tilsley Park. Witney Angels One of the driving members behind the new initiative is Joséphine Ellen, captain for the Witney Angels. Joséphine reached out to the Saints and told the club how much she and her fellow team mates want the opportunity to play American Football. The Saints set plans in motion quickly and invited representatives from the Witney Angels to meet with Saints staff and observe the senior team in training. Less than a week later, the first session had been planned and booked. To further demonstrate their willingness to get started, Joséphine and Co bought themselves some footballs and held their own training session, sending a photo to the Saints to show how keen they are to launch official sessions. Joséphine Ellen: “I got in touch with the Oxford Saints after realising that, like me, most of my rugby team have always dreamt about playing American Football. We’ve never felt so welcome. Not only am I looking forward to learning the game, I can’t wait to see the first women’s squad run out onto the pitch in their new Saints jerseys!” Input From BAFA – British American Football Association Following very productive conversations with Jim Messenger, BAFA Head of Womens Football Development, progress is well underway to grow the team with a ‘Foundation Day’ being planned for 2016 also. This will see experienced coaches and hopefully players for the GB Lions program coming down to Oxford to put on a great session for women looking to get started with American Football. Jim Messenger - BAFA Head of Women Development: “Women’s American football is rapidly spreading to nations around the World. The growth of teams and number of players in Britain has been phenomenal and from almost nothing three years ago we have now overtaken other nations to be ranked No2 in Europe. From Scotland to the South coast new women’s teams are popping-up and we are very excited to see the launch of a team for Oxfordshire. The Oxford Saints has a proud tradition and a great reputation within British American football, I am sure the Saints’ women’s team will be a great success.” Coaching Vacancies With some of the coaching staff already appointed from members of the senior team, the Oxford Saints are now looking for a passionate individual to take on the role of Head Coach. Ideal candidates will have experience coaching American Football in the UK and should have the appropriate BAFCA qualifications. Previous involvement with a women’s team would be a bonus. The successful candidate will have the support of the Oxford Saints committee and several assistant coaches to work alongside. There will also be opportunities for the new head coach to expand the coaching line-up further if desired. The Saints will also be looking to arrange for a BAFCA Level 1 course to be staged in Oxford, which will help build the community of qualified coaches across Oxfordshire. If you are interested in coaching please email coaching@oxfordsaints.com Getting Started Are you looking to get involved with the Oxford Saints Women’s team? We’ll be looking to offer non-contact flag football (ages 16+) and contact football (ages 17+). Contacting the Saints If you have any questions or would like to know more you can send us a message, email us at women@oxfordsaints.com or contact us through our official Facebook page www.facebook.com/oxfordsaints
After weeks of prep, and our own week of countdown articles, the day has finally arrived. If the day is anywhere near as good as the effort put in by those who have organised it, it will surely be a success. Well done to Coach Andrew Gambrill and his team. The last in our series of Q&A’s is with Louise Lee, captain of the GB Women’s flag team. 1. What was it like playing in the Euro Championships last summer? The buzz surrounding us created an exciting atmosphere, making it a trip none of us will ever forget. From the build-up beforehand, to the support we received throughout the tournament, everything just made the whole experience extra special. Getting to play under the Great Britain name, as cheesy as it sounds, is such an exhilarating feeling and is something none of us will ever take for granted. You get so wrapped up in the football bubble for that week that I forgot I had a job or a life back home, it is that intense. And every feeling is magnified so the team went through every possible emotion together. The adrenaline from the games just adds to intensity. It felt great to get out onto the field and just play after all the training, headshots and organising! 2. Despite a slow start the team got better in each game - how and why did that happen? It is totally obvious what happened in our first game, we all froze. We all got up in the morning and had no idea how to handle playing for Great Britain so we went out onto the field as total rookies, massively under prepared for the nerves that we experienced. It was a good game to get out of the way! As we progressed, we found our comfort zones. We identified what worked and what didn't and just developed a much more fluid game. Once we started getting points on the board, and defending tough drives, the level of confidence grew exponentially. We certainly ironed out a few creases and we have a solid foundation to move forward from. It is only natural to take some time to gel as a group, players and coaches together. 3. Did you find there was any added pressure being Captain? Sometimes I actually felt more pressure due to people worrying too much about me. I am the sort of person who likes to keep busy, keep things ticking over and generally oversee everything that is happening, which allows me to keep a track of any issues as they come up. So when I was advised to take some 'me time', I automatically put too much pressure on myself by delving too deep into my game and also felt very disconnected with the group, which was overwhelming when reintegrating. Obviously, it didn't feel good when we had the big losses at the start, and sometimes I did have to get involved in some tricky issues like substitutions (which is the hardest thing ever!) but I was never disappointed with the team and I was always superbly supported by my team mates throughout. I suppose there were added pressures, but I am actually quite grateful to have had some distractions. Added to which, nothing will beat captaining these ladies! 4. With the game getting bigger (more teams/players) this can only be good for GB in the future. Where do you see the game in 5 years? Definitely only good things for GB! As a bit of an oldie, who was playing when there were barely women's teams to play against, I can safely say that more involvement has led to brilliant levels of competition and will lead to even better things in the future. I am definitely an advocate for a league system, to complement the current tournament based series we have. I believe it will lead to more skilled and tactical longer games, more preparation time and some tense league following! Back before the opal series, the Warwick women loved traveling to other locations to meet ladies from other teams, and socialise, as well as play a game or two. If some kind of league could be established, geography dependent, I think it would be beneficial for the game itself, as well as connecting players from around the country. 5. How are you personally preparing for the new season? I worked very hard for the last Opal Series by working on my cardio fitness and strength training as I wasn't able to train with Warwick very much (having relocated to London). As for this year, well, I have been in Australia since Christmas so training is very difficult. The weather is a big stumbling block for someone like me who isn't used to the heat, but it is good practice for future championships in hot countries!! However, I am trying hard to maintain my fitness, and my partner, who fancies himself as a bit of a coach, has been helping me with my technical skills. Once I am back in the UK, I will be back into regular training to get ready for the new season. 6. What advice would you give for someone new wanting to try the sport? My advice would be to not panic about any aspect of the game. It can take a while to find your skill, or feel comfortable in a particular role, but there is something for absolutely everyone. And if you're anything like me, you may end up playing a position you had no idea you would love! In addition to that, I would recommend any rookies to get as much game experience as possible. It is the best way to learn, in my opinion. With the Wolverines, we would always organise rookie games against local teams (Coventry for us) so that new players could experience the game at pace, but without the pressure of an Opal tournament structure. Then we could pause the game when necessary to explain anything that wasn't clear. Theory is a good thing to know to understand the logic of the game, but putting into practice makes it easier to visualise. It won't take you long to fall in love with the game. 7. What are your long term ambitions within the game? The Great Britain team is a massive priority for me. The men's team has set a good precedent for us and we certainly aspire to follow in their footsteps and really establish ourselves. We have a huge amount of talent here in the UK and I want to make sure we capitalise on that and create the best team in Europe. That means also focusing on the development of the game, which I enjoy being involved with, whether it be at a player or board level. For me personally, I hope to start my own team so that I can train regularly and locally (as much as I would love to be a Wolverine forever!) and open the game up to a whole new demographic of people. I can't ever imagine not playing football, so I am very much looking forward to seeing how it develops!
One day away from the BAFA Women’s Flag Development and for those involved the preparation has been thorough and exact. Those words can also carry true to the play and mind set of a player/coach that has been a constant fixture amongst the Women’s flag set up, and beyond. Today we thank Jade Archibald of the Northants Titans, a Coach, QB, CB, Centre for answering a few questions for us.   1. What was your first game experience like? Wow, what a rush!  I remember it vividly.  At the time I was playing in a mixed team, and only 1 of 2 women, amongst a tribe of men.  It was absolutely awesome.  Stepping onto the field, to start warm up, I was immensely nervous, so many self-doubting thoughts went through my head ‘what if I missed a tackle, what if I let the team down….’  I managed to pull myself together and as soon as the whistle went I settled into the Middle Linebacker role!  I can only describe it as the most invigorating 40 minutes of my life, and from that moment, I knew I was absolutely hooked!  I managed to hold my own, despite being outsized, I wanted more!  And couldn't wait for our next game day! 2. From that experience, what advice would you give to those wanting to take up the game? If you don’t try, you will never know!  I was really unfit, I had never played a hand ball sport, (wow that’s a mouth full) I was into hockey, swimming and cross country running.  My first ever session with the Northants Titans was terrifying....but the Coaches were patient, and soon I started to get it.   My fitness improved, and my sense of belonging was overwhelming.   I had joined a team that really cared, that wanted to have fun, and I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself. This is a very far reaching feeling, as the culture of American Football, is such a family feel, everyone is so passionate about growing the sport, about building something that is truly sustainable for the future.  I am immensely proud to be a part of the footballing community!  We are making things happen, and we building a legacy for future athletes! 3. Describe your current role within the Women's game setup? Well, I am a little bit of a sucker for variety and I LOVE me some structure and organisation, so here goes: I am a player first and foremost.  I play QB mainly, as well as Cornerback.  Recently I have been working on my Centre skills.  I, along with a few other Coaches, started the Northants Titans Women's Team, which I now Coach and Lead the team.  I also have a BAFA Role, which supports the setup and organisation of the Opal Series. I am obsessed about growing ladies flag in the UK, so tend to get involved with BAFA behind the scenes to bring things together. Later this summer the Northants Titans will be hosting the first Summer Series Tournament, as a further opportunity for ladies across the UK to play competitively (in the not so freezing months. 4. How far do you think the Women's game can go in the UK? Without a shadow of a doubt ALL THE WAY, from being part of our schools curriculum's, to running a Women’s league, equal to or greater than the mixed league at the moment.  More players, more games, more fun!  I have been a part of the sport for 3 short years, and in that time the number of players has almost doubled, new teams are developing every year, across both the flag format and contact.  It's a great time to be a part of women's football in the UK. The foundations have been set incredibly well, by our very own Coach Jim Messenger and Coach Andrew Gambrill.  The momentum of the sport is about to reach tipping point, and we just need to be ready to embrace developing teams, support them to learn the sport, and provide a competitive route for all players. Last year we saw the first ever GB Kitted and GB Flag Teams being selected, this was a significant moment in the sports history, and signifies to those getting involved at the grass-roots, that the sky is the limit, if you have the drive and motivation to get there! Base on the current growth in Women's Football, I believe we will see continued growth over the next few years, which will change the way we play today, with further focus at the grass-roots level, to ensure that we have a healthy pipeline of competitive players coming through. 5. What would you change to spread the word about the Women's game? There is nothing in particular I would change, but there are a few observations that I have made in the last few years. For me, as a predominantly flag player, the time of year the Flag Women’s League is played is in the coldest of winter…. Now this makes you one hell of a tough player!  If you can play in gale force winds, sleet and very heavy rain, you are ‘BAD ASS’, that said, for Rookie or Developing teams, this can add extra complexity.  A simple change to when the Ladies Season is held, may be the answer. This will also allow women who play other spots, soccer or rugby to enter into the Footballing world, as these skills are very transferable across spots, as most other spots are played during winter months.  This may give the sport an extra boost! I also believe that every team, every Coach has a duty and a responsibility to support further growth, either through their local sports teams, universities or communities.  It’s up to us, to support Rookie teams, to show them the ropes, and to set them up for success.  The BAFA organised Development Days, are a great way of introducing new players in a safe and structured environment.  BUT we CAN DO MORE.  6. Who personally, has been the biggest influence on your game? This is a really really tough one! There are so many people, that have shaped the player and Coach I am today, my crazy husband Dan, for inviting me to my first ever session, without him, I would never have even thought to get involved.  Coach Gambrill for inviting me to take part in my first ever ladies tournament, at which time I was even more hooked!  Which subsequently lead to The Titans starting to explore the concept of our very own Women’s Team.  That said, the most overwhelming thing about Women's Flag Football is the players, the sense of community, the friendships and FUN!  It keeps me coming back week in, week out. 7. How would you encourage someone who was unsure if this is the sport for them? From my experience of coaching rookie players, who have never picked up a football in their life, or seen a game, it’s all about baby steps.  I have a few ladies in this very position at the moment, and it’s all about positivity and confidence!  I firmly believe that anyone could be great at playing football, with the right mind-set, and the right fundamentals. I like to work alongside my players, supporting them every step of the way, breaking things down and building things back up, so they understand how certain tasks are executed and their role to play within the team. For me it’s about really knowing each player as individual's, understanding how they learn, and then adapting myself to get the best out of them.  People are different, and therefore I know I need to flex my style to suit their needs. I am a firm believer of building trust, a team that trust each other, will excel on the field, I tend to promote a sense of community and fun, so that we can break down a few barriers and get to work!  It’s a really safe environment, and reinforcing that is very important to me.
Our countdown to the BAFA Women’s flag development day this Saturday continues, and today we are fortunate enough to have a few questions answered by one of the veterans of the game here. For a long time now Phoebe Schecter has been one of the leading lights both on and off the field. Leading by example she has become in some ways a perfect unofficial ambassador for the Women’s game. 1. What is your current role within the game aside from playing? My current roles are: Head Coach Staffordshire Surge Women's team and Special Teams Co-ordinator for Staffordshire Surge men.  I also assist with the GB Women's team s&c programmes and fitness advisor. 2. Recently you helped out with a development day with the Staffordshire Surge. How did that come about? I ended up taking over the Surge women's team from Sarah Jauncey, back in February.  I spoke to the Surge ladies and offered them an intro to contact session, to decide if we will continue with flag, or perhaps progress to contact. This is the girl's team, and I am happy to support them whether they decide to play contact or flag. I had an outline of the day in my head, and knew just the coaching staff for the job as well. I thought it would be a powerful experience for the ladies and the Academy to be taught by women with such experience and all with GB honors. I was so proud to stand on the field with a completely female coaching staff, teaching the next generation. 3. Being a senior member of GB squads, does this put pressure on you to perform? I would be lying if I said that people don't have certain expectations of me to perform. However, I don't put pressure on myself when it comes down to practice or the game.  I put in the hard work outside of practice, i.e., workouts, playbook, nutritionally, rest, prehab, etc. When it comes to game day, I rely on my instincts, because when I am on that field, everything other than those 22 players are blocked out. 4. What was your personal experience of the Euro Championships last summer? It was a well organised, professional and unbelievable experience, that I feel honored to have been a part of.  The atmosphere was contagious and you couldn't help but be excited to be there. Our coaching staff and team were all made to feel like complete professionals. The entire week, we didn't have to think of anything other than our job at hand. Women's American Football is so unique, as at the end of the tournament, all the teams gathered together to celebrate the experience together as friends, not rivals. 5. Which type of game do you prefer, flag or contact? That is a tough one! I love contact and everything about it; I wish I had this sport when I was younger! That is not to say there isn't a place for flag, I really enjoy flag as well! I think it is great for fitness and to teach the game, plus work on your fundamentals. At this moment in my life though, contact is superior. I couldn't imagine not putting on my kit, running onto the field, and tackling someone at full speed. 6. With Women coaches making progress in the States, is this something that interests you in pursuing? I am actually coaching now, which I absolutely love! It is so rewarding and I am so fortunate to be able to give back to the game. It was a bit of a challenge at first, to change my mind set from player to coach, but now I love to see the ladies and men's progression week in and week out. 7. Your personal ambitions for 2016? I would love to make the GB squad again for our game against Spain. We are just coming off the back of the close, of our domestic season, where the Birmingham Lions have won the national title for the 3rd year running. I also am going to start playing with the Surge Adult team, as a bit of a challenge for myself. I want to continue to help this sport grow for women in this country, whether they play or coach, we need both. 8. Any advice for potentials players wanting to start playing? Come down and give it a try, you won't be disappointed! There is a position for everyone and we are a hugely diverse and welcoming community. You don't need to know anything about the sport, most of us didn't when we started. If you work hard and give it 100%, that is all that people ask.  If you are looking for a team near you or upcoming events, check out BAFA Women's Football on Facebook. I can't promise that you won't fall in love with this sport.
This Saturday sees another landmark day in the growth of the Women’s game. Andrew Gambrill, the Head Coach of the GB Women’s flag team has put together – with the help of others – the first development day in Chorley. This is sure to be a huge success as it not only gives players a chance to go through the motions on the field but also to test their skills beyond the gridiron. The “x’s and o’s” will come under scrutiny and players will get to know more about why they are running a certain route or why it’s important to keep that block moving. Over the next few days we have a series of interviews with key members of the coaching set-up and players that will be involved in this fantastic day of learning. Firstly we have the hugely experienced Sarah Jauncey. Photo courtesy of Geoff White  1. What is your current role, and how long have you been doing it? Currently I am Head Coach with University of Chester, QB Coach with GB Ladies Flag, and Coach with BAFA Ladies Development, Co-Ordinator of American Football for Female Coaching Network. I have been coaching football for 5yrs, coaching in general sport for 24yrs. 2. Within this role what gives you most satisfaction? The coaching. It's very rewarding watching a player grow and become the best that they can be through guidance and practise. Also being able to communicate and bring together other female coaches from all over the world, whilst raising the profile of women’s football. 3. How did you first get involved in the sport? I had watched the game, and got hooked. I contacted my local club (which I found on the BAFA website), and they invited me down to a session. I spent a few weeks observing and then started taking the warm ups. From there I was mentored by my then HC Alan Winters, I progressed and when I left the club in 2014 I was Special Teams Co-Ordinator. I moved to Staffordshire where I took on the role of STC, with the team gaining a spot in the playoffs last season. I was given the Head Coachship of the Uni 3 years back, and this year we have made very positive steps to the BUCS league, a very exciting time! 4. What was the biggest obstacle for you? To be completely honest, I have never really had any obstacles. Everyone in the game has always been very welcoming. There has been some funny obstacles, as I coach both the male and female players in both tackle and flag, asking a player in full kit to run at me whilst I demonstrate a certain skill - and the player looking at me as if I am crazy......I am only 5' tall, so asking a 6'+ guy in full kit to do this normally raises a few eyebrows! Photo courtesy of Sophie Robinson 5. Where do you think the Women's game will be in 5 years’ time? It is growing year on year. The women’s game is still very much in its infancy, compared to the men’s game - but year on year both Sapphire and Opal series sees new teams, and Diamond league last year saw up to 80 female players at one session. So we are 3-4yrs in, so it can really only go one way - forward. It will constantly be playing catch-up to the men’s game, as that has been around for over 30yrs in the UK so they have a head start!  As for the coaching side of the game, BAFCA are qualifying more ladies every session, so eventually having a female coach (or 2/3/4/5) will not be so unusual. 6. What are your personal goals for the future? To keep going! I have reached as high as I currently can, but that does not mean that I will stop!! 7. If you could change one thing in the Women's set up, what would it be? As it is, the women's set up is a great environment. Conducive to the growth and betterment of the game. As it progresses I see more females coaching females - as there is a plethora of talent coming through the players. We are not at a place yet where there is a progression from playing to coaching, (as there is in the men’s game), but it will happen. Looking towards the future, a junior/youth league for girls would be a great addition!! 8. Any advice for women wanting to take up the sport? To steal a well-known phrase.....Just Do It! There is tackle and flag out there so there is something for everyone. Give it a try, go along to one of the BAFA Development Days where you can try it in a secure and safe environment. You never know what you can do until you try..... These Girls Definitely Can!
Images supplied by Andy Neale - Whizzyfingers Photography DIVISION ONE The 2016 BAFA Women’s Sapphire Series came to an exciting conclusion this past Saturday with 2 new champions crowned and an old yet familiar one retaining their title. Each year the stakes get higher as more players take up the game, and new teams taking to the field, but if ever there was a model of consistency the Birmingham Lions have the formula. They have set the standard over the last couple of years and this year proved no different going unbeaten over their 7 games to once more top the standings and take away the Sapphire crown for the third time. The teams behind them were involved in a very close chase for second place that ended in a playoff. The Hertfordshire Tornadoes edging out Leeds Carnegie. Derby Braves salvaged some pride on the final day of the competition with two wins, but as always its not always about the on field competition but the journey for all the athletes involved. They will be enthused by the great coaching and finding new colleagues over the last two months or so. DERBY BRAVES 14 MANCHESTER TITANS 0 LEEDS CARNEGIE 56 HERTFORDSHIRE TORNADOES 20 MANCHESTER TITANS 2 DERBY BRAVES 7 BIRMINGHAM LIONS 49 LEEDS CARNEGIE 18 2nd place playoff – HERTFORDSHIRE TORNADOES 4 LEEDS CARNEGIE 2 SERIES MVP – ROBYN SEWARD – LEEDS, Runners up – HANNAH PYE – Birmingham, FERN ELLIOT – Manchester. DIVISON TWO NORTH In Division Two North the games were to decide the placings from 1-4. After the 3 rounds the team were split as 1v2 add 3v4. The game through the Series had been close in the main and therefore it was a shock to see n open game in the 3/4 playoff. Chester winning a high scoring encounter. Edinburgh were to secure the title however in a keenly fought game with Teeside Steelers. All groups of players will have learnt immensely from this division, and will be chomping at the bit for the next set of games. 3/4 Playoff – CHESTER ROMANS 90 EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES 76 1/2 Playoff – EDINBURGH WOLVES 26 TEESIDE STEELERS 7 MVP – RACHAEL MOODY – Edinburgh, Runners-up – HELENA LASOK-SMITH – Chester. DIVISION TWO SOUTH The free scoring London Warriors continued their ways through to the end of the day and Series with another two shutout wins. They have been a cut above this year and will surely be eyeing up the transition to 7v7 to have a shot at the teams in Division One. That of course is for another day. Wembley proved to be the closest runner up in the standings, after being beat by the Warriors they rebounded enough to beat the Spears. Sandwell had a strong start beating Portsmouth but hopes of finishing second were extinguished by the Warriors. LONDON WARRIORS 30 WEMBLEY STALLIONS 0 PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS 20 ICENI SPEARS 0 SANDWELL STEELERS 25 PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS 6 WEMBLEY STALLIONS 26 ICENI SPEARS 2 SANDWELL STEELERS 0 LONDON WARRIORS 45 MVP – SYDNEY GREEN – Sandwell, Runners-up – CHRISTINA IBIRONKE – Warriors, ANGIE SOWERBY – Wembley FINAL STANDINGS DIVISION ONE                                   F              A             PTS BIRMINGHAM LIONS                                     295         34           24 HERTS.TORNADOES                                        236         231         18 LEEDS CARNEGIE                                              218         179         18 DERBY BRAVES                                                  47           244         10 MANCHESTER TITANS                                    50           168         8                                                                                 DIVISION TWO NORTH                                                                  TEESIDE STEELERS                                            96           20           16 EDINBURGH WOLVES                                    61           37           13 CHESTER ROMANS                                          138         94           11 EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES                                 28           172         8                                                                                 DIVISION TWO SOUTH                                                                  LONDON WARRIORS                                      398         6              24 WEMBLEY STALLIONS                                    88           123         18 SANDWELL STEELERS                                      96           128         16 PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS                       70           222         12 ICENI SPEARS                                                      13          186         5
15.04.2016
UKFirstdown
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Today (April 16th) is the fourth and final round of the 2016 Sapphire Series. Once again the competition has proved to be an overwhelming success with new teams and players being introduced to the sport. There have been many bumps and bruises along the way but each one will have its own story attached to it. Image courtesy of Garry Charles - My Lonely Tree Media The organisation has been exemplary with 12 different hosts across the country, showing that the game is going forwards in a very positive manner. Old rivalries have been renewed, and new ones established. Overall though it’s the learning curve that even the most experienced players are on that makes the game a success. The drive and ambition of the Great Britain teams’ performances is something that all the new players are aiming for. If they can’t get to that level it’s no big loss as new bonds have been met with colleagues. DIVISION 1 Birmingham Lions have been the flag bearer for the game for a long time now and this looks set to continue this year. They host this week’s final round of games and should be crowned champions at the end of the day. Hertfordshire and Leeds will be aiming to finish runners up, and Derby will be looking to avoid the wooden spoon. HOST – Birmingham Lions – VENUE – University of Birmingham, Metchley Park Sports Fields, B17 0JA. Kick Off approx. 1pm DERBY BRAVES v MANCHESTER TITANS LEEDS CARNEGIE v HERTFORDSHIRE TORNADOES MANCHESTER TITANS v DERBY BRAVES BIRMINGHAM LIONS v LEEDS CARNEGIE DIVISION 2 NORTH Teeside have been the most consistent team amongst this group, but the play has been very even throughout. East Kilbride can take no shame from being the bottom of the pack having played more than their part in a division that at one point was too close to call. Chester will host the final round and has the Steelers looking to hold off the challenge of Edinburgh to secure the title. HOST – Chester Romans – VENUE – Cheshire County Sports Club, Plas Newton Lane, Upton, CH2 1PR. Kick off approx. 1pm TEESIDE STEELERS v EDINBURGH WOLVES CHESTER ROMANS v EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES DIVISION 2 SOUTH It’s been an amazing first year for the London Warriors. Like the men’s team they have been dominant from the word go and look to end their campaign in style. They travel to Norwich with an unbeaten streak and many, many points on the board. If you took them out of the picture it’s been a very closely fought group. Sandwell and Wembley are well matched, and Portsmouth have shown some excellent flashes of the potential they have. Host team Iceni have encountered problems in their rookie year having to forfeit some games. They look to bounce back this week and get their first win. HOST – Iceni Spears – VENUE – Lakenham Hewitt Rugby Club, Main Road, Norwich, NR14 8DU. Kick off approx. 1pm LONDON WARRIORS v WEMBLEY STALLIONS PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS v ICENI SPEARS SANDWELL STEELERS v PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS WEMBLEY STALLIONS v ICENI SPEARS SANDWELL STEELERS v LONDON WARRIORS There will be the usual hard hits and high scores, so if you can attend any of the 3 events, your support will be greatly appreciated and in the meantime will you will be awarded by seeing the growth of the game in front of you.
29.03.2016
UKFirstdown
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Round 3 of the BAFA Women’s Sapphire Series played out this past Saturday, and as was the case with the first two rounds it was a tale of dominance from two teams and a close set of games in one Division. PREMIER DIVISION The Birmingham Lions are on the brink of another Premier Division title after winning their two games. The match against their closest challengers, Herts Tornadoes, being a very one sided affair. Derby put up some resistance but still came away scoreless in their encounter with the Lions. Leeds are now joint second after an impressive day. It will be a battle to avoid the wooden spoon as both Manchester and Derby lost their games and prop up the Division. HERTFORDSHIRE TORNADOES 6 BIRMINGHAM LIONS 61 BIRMINGHAM LIONS 28 DERBY BRAVES 0 MANCHESTER TITANS 6 LEEDS CARNEGIE 23 MANCHESTER TITANS 24 HERTFORDSHIRE TORNADOES 46 LEEDS CARNEGIE 30 DERBY BRAVES 6 DIVISON ONE NORTH Images courtesy of Geoff White - gw-images.com Teeside Steelers remain unbeaten in Division 1 North, but they are not having it all their way, their game against Edinburgh proved that with both teams playing a game with no points scored. There was another tied game for the Wolves, this time with Chester. The Romans have improved steadily, and beat East Kilbride impressively with a shutout. TEESIDE STEELERS 18 EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES 0 EDINBURGH WOLVES 6 CHESTER ROMANS 6 - https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.483204658538179.1073741900.187980794727235&type=3 EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES 0 CHESTER ROMANS 54 - https://www.facebook.com/geoff.white.127/media_set?set=a.975775582506546.1073741973.100002223392245&type=3 TEESIDE STEELERS 0 EDINBURGH WOLVES 0 DIVISION ONE SOUTH It was a case of business as usual for the London Warriors as they racked up two more wins, putting up 84 points without conceding. The battle for second place is heating up with just 4 point in the standings separating 3 teams. Sandwell have the edge despite losing both games in Round 3, and they will be mindful of a fast improving Wembley team that won both their games in two close matchups. LONDON WARRIORS 62 PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS 0 LONDON WARRIORS 22 SANDWELL STEELERS 0 SANDWELL STEELERS 0 WEMBLEY STALLIONS 8 WEMBLEY STALLIONS 12 PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS 6 DIVISION ONE                                  F             A           PT BIRMINGHAM LIONS  246 16 18 HERTS.TORNADOES 216 175 14 LEEDS CARNEGIE 154 110 14 DERBY BRAVES 26 242 6 MANCHESTER TITANS 48 147 4 DIVISION TWO NORTH TEESIDE STEELERS 96 20 16 EDINBURGH WOLVES 61 37 13 CHESTER ROMANS 138 94 11 EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES 28 172 8 DIVISION TWO SOUTH LONDON WARRIORS 323 6 18 SANDWELL STEELERS 71 77 12 WEMBLEY STALLIONS 62 91 11 PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS 44 197 8 ICENI SPEARS 11 140 3 The teams all meet up again on April 16th for the 4th and final Round of games.
25.03.2016
UKFirstdown
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Round 3 of the Sapphire Series is already upon us, it only seems like yesterday we were reporting on the hard hits and bruises from Round 2. This is generally the time we find out who is the real deal and looking like serious contenders for the title. Of course given that there are 3 titles up for grabs this year, there is more opportunity to shine across the country. In Division 1 the Birmingham Lions have once again set the early pace and it will take a really strong performance to knock them off their top spot, but as we all know it only takes an inspired moment to upset the odds. The Lions closest challenger is once again the Hertfordshire Tornadoes and they are the host team this weekend and the two clash for the second time this season, Birmingham having won the first encounter 35-10. Leeds could take advantage of any slip up by the Tornadoes as they play the Titans and Braves. Host – HERTFORDSHIRE TORNADOES. Venue – University of Hertfordshire, Herts Sports Village, de Havilland Campus, Hatfield, AL10 9EU. Approx. 12.30 start. HERTFORDSHIRE TORNADOES v BIRMINGHAM LIONS BIRMINHAM LIONS v DERBY BRAVES MANCHESTER TITANS v LEEDS CARNEGIE MANCHESTER TITANS v HERTFORDSHIRE TORNADOES LEEDS CARNEGIE v DERBY BRAVES Division 2 North is the closest so far and it’s still very wide open to predict the winner at this stage. Edinburgh started strong but it’s the Teeside Steelers who had a strong Round 2 and are unbeaten as they look to extend their lead on their home turf. East Kilbride and Chester will not be there just to make up the numbers however so you could see another shift in power. Host – TEESIDE STEELERS. Venue – SRC Bede Sixth Form College, Marsh House Avenue, Billingham, Cleveland, TS23 3HB. Approx. 13.00 start. TEESIDE STEELERS v EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES EDINBURGH WOLVES v CHESTER ROMANS EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES v CHESTER ROMANS TEESIDE STEELERS v EDINBURGH WOLVES In the Division 2 South it seems to be one way traffic as the London Warriors are yet to be troubled and it’s their turn to be the host team. Depending on how busy their opponents have been in preparation over the last fortnight it could be a long afternoon for Wembley and Sandwell, the two teams the Warriors face off against. Those two along with Portsmouth and Iceni are facing the prospect of battling for second place such has been the early dominance of the Warriors, but as in Division 1 the leaders cant rest just yet and will be naïve to underestimate anyone. Host – LONDON WARRIORS LONDON WARRIORS v WEMBLEY STALLIONS ICENI SPEARS v PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS LONDON WARRIORS v SANDWELL STEELERS SANDWELL STEELERS v ICENI SPEARS WEMBLEY STALLIONS v PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS We will bring you all the results and updated standings as soon as possible as the Sapphire Series builds up to its exciting climax.
Round 2 of the Sapphire Series played out this past Saturday and left some more teams bruised and battered. Already suffering from the last round were the Derby Braves who couldn’t make the trip to Manchester to fulfil their Division One games. This was due to not being able to field a full strength roster and therefore risking player safety. As the day wore on the Iceni Spears of Division Two South suffered the same fate and were unable to play their second game of the day. Such is the learning curve when you have new teams featuring new players that these unfortunate incidents occur. From what we understand the injured players are recovering well and will hopefully not be put off by their misfortune going forward. So onto the action and as somewhat expected the Birmingham Lions continued their dominance of Division One with two shutout wins. Hertfordshire kept up the pace though and should the Lions slip up they will be the first team to capitalise. Leeds will take something from the day as they were not completely humiliated by Birmingham and put up some decent numbers against the Tornadoes. Images from the Division One games in Manchester can be found here courtesy of Geoff White - https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.474854929373152.1073741894.187980794727235&type=3&__mref=message_bubble Division Two North looks to be the most evenly matched. After a good opening round Edinburgh were pegged back and could only manage a tied game and a narrow loss. They were leapfrogged in the standings by Teeside. Chester won big against host team East Kilbride, before succumbing to the Steelers. Division Two South is in danger of becoming an exhibition for the London Warriors. Outscoring their opponents 114-0 on the day they are the dominant force right now and even though Sandwell are tucked in nicely behind them in the standings they are going to be at their best in a fortnight to derail their free scoring rivals. Portsmouth and Wembley will be a good test for Sandwell in the race for second spot. DIVISION ONE BIRMINGHAM 28 LEEDS 0 LEEDS 29 HERTFORDSHIRE 58 BIRMINGHAM 43 MANCHESTER 0 MANCHESTER 20 HERTFORDSHIRE 50 DIVISION TWO NORTH CHESTER 46 EAST KILBRIDE 13 EDINBURGH 2 TEESDIE 2 EAST KILBRIDE 8 EDINBURGH 6 CHESTER 6 TEESIDE 12 DIVISION TWO SOUTH PORTSMOUTH 0 LONDON 60 WEMBLEY 18 SANDWELL 6 ICENI 0 LONDON 54 PORTSMOUTH 18 SANDWELL 19 Gordon Dedman reports from the games played in Portsmouth with some great images from the day. The latest round of the Sapphire Series South took place on the sunny south coast with Portsmouth University hosting the London Warriors, the Sandwell Steelers, the Wembley Stallions and the Iceni Spears. The most proficient team, confirmed by the dominance in their 60-0 and 54-0 victories over Portsmouth and Iceni, was London. Slick and athletic, they oozed the professionalism you would expect from a Warriors organisation and certainly expressed it on the field with their high scoring offense and commanding defense. In the round robin process that is the Sapphire Series, Sandwell lost to a spirited Wembley team who overcame the loss of their starting quarterback at the end of the first half to win 18-6. The Stallions have the smallest squad, but maintained their focus to gain the victory. With Iceni forgoing their second game, it was left to Portsmouth and Sandwell to put on a display of flip flopping football in the final act. Sandwell scored early, but Portsmouth hit back and took an 18-7 lead with four minutes remaining.  The Steelers warming to their task put together two scoring series to win 19-18 with just one successful point after separating the two teams. If there are any doubts about the intensity of the ladies game, the two injuries that delayed proceedings awaiting ambulances confirmed the fervour the game is played in. I wish the Iceni and Wembley injured players a speedy recovery. LONDON WARRIORS v PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS - https://www.flickr.com/photos/107007642@N02/albums/72157665733755532 SANDWELL STEELERS v PORTSMOUTH DETROYERS – https://www.flickr.com/photos/107007642@N02/albums/72157665866731116 SANDWELL STEELERS v WEMBLEY STALLIONS - https://www.flickr.com/photos/107007642@N02/albums/72157663583477834 STANDINGS AFTER ROUND TWO DIVISION ONE                                                F A             PTS BIRMINGHAM LIONS                                     157         10           12 HERTS.TORNADOES                                        164         90           10 LEEDS CARNEGIE                                              101         98           8 DERBY BRAVES                                                 20            184         4 MANCHESTER TITANS                                    18           78           2                                                                                 DIVISION TWO NORTH                                                                  TEESIDE STEELERS                                            78           20           11 EDINBURGH WOLVES                                    55           31           9 CHESTER ROMANS                                          78           88           6 EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES                                 28           100         6                                                                                 DIVISION TWO SOUTH                                                                  LONDON WARRIORS                                      239         6              12 SANDWELL STEELERS                                      71           47           10 PORTSMOUTH DESTROYERS                       38           123         6 WEMBLEY STALLIONS                                    42           85           5 ICENI SPEARS                                                   11             140         3

Sapphire Series round up

Now that BAFA’s domestic season aka the Sapphire Finals are over we caught up with a few of the tournament teams’ protagonists to see what they made of the event, competition and how they fared against their own expectations.

Welcome Maria Peters - Portsmouth Destroyers’ Club President, Chester Romans’ GM Amanda Staples, Hertfordshire Tornadoes  Offensive Coordinator Luke Plastow, Sandwell Steelers GM and Captain Lauren MillS, and Birmingham  Lions Club Captain me, Jo Kilby.

Prior to Sapphire kick off what were your teams’ ambitions or goals? 

MP: Not to finish last, to win more games than the previous series and to get more people into the sport. 

AS: With only entering half the series we were looking at gaining experience, knowledge and team building so we could look to continue improving across our second, development year.

LP: Our aim initially was to enter Opal [BAFA’s equivalent flag competition] to try and bleed in our new players and those who had moved positions, we weren't ready for Opal 1 but improved quickly, finishing 7th overall. We kept training hard so our new offence could make an impact on Sapphire and it soon became apparent that the team had worked hard enough to be in with a chance of a National Championship. We had recruited outstanding rookies and the returners who had switched positions had adapted very well. Defensively we had some stability in the coaching and returners and this really helped with shoring up the team going into Sapphire.

LM: Our goal was to enter our team into a competitive league series for women for the first time, we wanted to be effective and constructive and build on the hard work we’d put in at training.

JK: We’d recruited well over the course of our October rookie camps, so the size of our squad dictated our objectives somewhat, this subsequently drove out a couple of key goals: compete with both teams; retain last year’s national championship; give players opportunity. 

Do you think you achieved those ambitions?

MP: We recruited 17 members which was a record for the team so we were able to get more people into and involved with the sport, however we were unable to field a team for two rounds so as a result we ended up finishing the Series last which was a big disappointment considering the talent we had on the team. 

AS: Very much so, nothing bonds a team more than stepping out on that field together and the experience/knowledge gained was invaluable, even analysing the footage afterwards makes great steps towards improvement.

LP: We caught a few teams napping who weren’t expecting the high paced physicality the Tornadoes brought and whilst we struggled to overcome the Warriors at Sapphire 3 this gave us the shot we needed. We lost to Birmingham in the final again, which to the casual observer may seem like we hadn't improved on last year, but with a new offence and a lot of freshers it was actually an outstanding achievement.

LM: We definitely met our goals and were very pleased with the experience that all our players obtained from taking part. Additionally winning two of our games was the icing on the cake for us.

JK: Yes. Our two teams finished 1st and 3rd in their conferences and 1st and 7th nationally, our rookies got a lot of game time, our returners continued to deliver and thankfully, we retained our British title – we also sent 22 girls to BAFA’s recent GB trials and 15 Lions were selected.

Did you find the standard of play across the competition higher, lower or about the same as expected?

MP: There was a higher standard of play with more talent across the competition.

AS: Similar but slightly higher.

LP: I wasn't involved in Sapphire last year but the standard varied from team to team. When it got down to the crunch matches the competition was fantastic.

LM: The standard of play across the competition was very high. It was great to see a number of new team competing at a very high standard.

JK: Overall standards definitely improved, better athletes are entering the game (and that showed) and coaches are coming in to the game with aspirations to make women’s’ teams better rather than just ‘helping out’ as temporary measures.

How do you think the competition could have been improved and what would you like to see different about it next season?
MP: Officials need to make calls that help rookies, their team and the game progress. A bit more consistency is needed.

AS: It was very well organised, my only criticism would be the number of games on finals day - although they were shortened, we struggled mid-way through the second game with fatigue and injuries (including a serious one). If it could be possible all tournaments should only be two games for each team and maybe the larger squads could take on three.

LP: Next year I'd love to see even more teams competing at 5's and possibly even a 7-a-side competition for those with larger squads. 

LM: It would have been good to have played all of the teams within your conference rather than just a selection (sometimes twice). It would also be great to see the introduction of different formats next year.

JK: All the events seemed to run smoothly, but as the competition grows venues will need to accommodate the increased logistical challenge; it was also a bit disappointing that game durations were reduced and running play-off finals all at the same time meant no one set of teams get the undivided attention they deserved for their final games; next season? we’d be keen to break in to a new 7s or 8s format, that would suit our squad size but it would quickly develop women’s football and keep the ever-important lineman properly and effectively in the game.  

 Who were your team's stand out players? 

MP: Laura Howarth, Tierney Harman, Marlene Otert-Enning and myself were all fortunate enough to receive MVP awards. 

AS: Faye Griffiths #2, DB: racked up plenty of broken plays, provided great coverage and her tackling was super; Laura Dye #99, LB & RB: Laura is our hardest hitter both sides of the ball and she had both Defensive and Offensive touchdowns and Rhian McGraa #38, RB: "Superstar" has scored most of our touchdowns and is a raw talent, with more experience and training she will devastate teams in the future.

LP: Hard to answer because at every tournament someone stepped up. Offensively our rookie centre Alex Lily took on the best linemen in the country and did a great job. Angelina Diamanitidi switched to the O and put her body on the line blocking admirably for rookies like Amy Hunt-Brown who scored 9 TDs in her first ever contact tournament. Defensively, Fern Sahidjuan was all over the place taking down girls twice her size (literally) without fail. Vicci Rollinson joined us from Sandwell and just ruined offences. 

LM: Many of our players really stood out to our coaching staff during the series however to name a few would be Chloe Jones and Sydney Green.

JK: Man, how do you answer this – shout outs must go to Elisha Huxtable on the A squad, an October rookie she was a Guard in France (when we played 9s) and only moved to Centre at the end of January, two weeks before Sapphire 1 - she never gave up a sack or one shot on her QB! For the B team, Chloe Spalding and Hannah Watson excelled on the D and a host of rookies, Laura Thompson-Stevens, Sophie Etheridge and Caz Goodman did very good things.


Where does your team go from here?

MP: Next season we need to recruit and we need to get back into training and show the talent that Portsmouth has. We can only improve.

AS: We’ll continue training and improving until June and then attend the 11-aside Diamond Series where we can. Next season we hope to recruit a bigger coaching staff and move from strength to strength with a view to entering the whole of 2016’s Sapphire Series.

LP: Our aim is to retain all our players. The Tornadoes didn't do that last year and we had to rebuild. If we can retain everyone and recruit as well next season as we did this we should be aiming to go one better.

LM: We would like to continue developing our players and continue with our recruitment.

JK: A great number of our squad haven’t had a break for 2yrs due to GB commitments so after August (“if” we’re involved in the European Championships) we’ll have a good off-season so both our players and coaches can rest and recharge. Moving forward we’ve grand plans for season three already and if IFAF’s European Club Championships gets off the ground we’d love to be involved…this would represent an enormous challenge to be competitive in this arena, but that’s what motivates us.

 Thanks all.

GB selection ready for Russian test

Pride of Lions ready for action - Photo courtesy of Luke Plastow

The Great Britain Lions squad for the European qualifying game against Russia has been announced and with our first camp of the international season scheduled this weekend things are starting to get both exciting and serious as we commence our build up to Sunday 3rd May’s all-important game.

 Having been lucky enough to have been involved in both GB’s inaugural 5-aside and 11-aside games (both against Sweden, home and away respectively) it’s now time for the gloves to come off – this is a qualifier not a friendly; if we win, we progress to the European Championships in Spain in a few months’ time – this will no doubt act as a defining moment in the development of the women’s game in UK, saying nothing for the experiences those players and coaches fortunate enough to attend will gain, however, if we lose, well put it like this, the summer isn’t going to be half as much fun as it might have been!

 So what are our chances? Good I hope. The squad assembled by GB Women’s Head Coach Jim Messenger and his coaching staff looks good and includes quite a few new faces which are going to be exciting to be around. Players like Herts’ WR Amy Hunt-Brown, Manchester QB Sian Perry and Teesside’s Becky Martin on the D-Line all look like strong and exciting prospects, combine those guys with some exceptional incumbents – my own team-mates Ruth Matta and Hannah Pye on the offense and Phoebe Schecter and Nancy Stone on the defense for example, alongside the likes of Solent’s Julia Robinson and Teesside’s talisman Bev Marwood and there’s a fantastic game-day squad vying for selection. As for Russia,  I’ve no doubt they’re going to be a tall order - a country of strength and resilience I’ve every expectation their athletes will be both equipped to deliver in equal fashion.

 Playing for a place in Augusts’ European Championships (to be held in Granada, Spain) will no doubt add a large dose of pressure and tension to proceedings – that the result may well come down to which team can handle such pressure accordingly will only be known on the day, either way, a week-Sunday’s clash promises to be an exciting affair:, who will own the yards on the offense? Who will shut-down who’s game? Who’s special teams will dictate possession and territory? It’s all to play for, it all counts, it all matters so where are you going to be on Sunday 3rd May, because hopefully, if we get things right, we’re going to be making history…first Great Britain women’s team to attend and represent at a European Championships? That sounds nice doesn’t it?

Team GB Captains - (L-R) Bev Marwood - Teesside Steelers, Amanda Casey - Herts Tornadoes, Jo Kilby and Aimee Cottingham - Birmingahm Lions. Photo courtesy of Luke Plastow

 Great Britain vs. Russia is scheduled for a 2.30pm kick off, Sunday 3rd May at the University of Hertfordshire (De Havilland Campus, Mosquito Way, Hatfield, Herts., AL10 9UF).

 Great Britain Practice Squad:

Pye, Hannah (TE/WR) - Birmingham Lions
Cottingham, Aimee (DL) - Birmingham Lions
de Haven, Steph (RB) - Birmingham Lions
Etheridge, Sophie (WR) - Birmingham Lions

Gwynne, Michelle (OL) - Birmingham Lions

Harrison, Evie (WR) - Birmingham Lions

Kilby, Jo (QB) - Birmingham Lions

Killick, Nena (DB) - Birmingham Lions
Law, Victoria (LB) - Birmingham Lions

Matta, Ruth (RB) - Birmingham Lions
Moore, Laura (LB) - Birmingham Lions
Morgan, Antoinette (RB) - Birmingham Lions

Schecter, Phoebe (LB) - Birmingham Lions
Smith, Alice Mary (LB) - Birmingham Lions
Stone, Nancy (DB) - Birmingham Lions

Lewinska, Monica (DL) - Derby Braves

Raymont, Danielle (DL) - Derby Braves

Wong, Collette (DB) - Derby Braves

Snell, Verity (LB) - Derby Braves

Drew, Polly (OL) - Derby Braves

Fitzsimmons, Louise (OL) - Manchester Titans

Parkinson, Emily (LB) - Manchester Titans
Perry, Sian (QB) - Manchester Titans

Goodliffe, Jayne (RB) - Unsigned
Mills, Lauren (OL) - Sandwell Steelers
Dela Cruz, Angelie (QB) - Iceni Spears

Mann, Joanne (DB) - Teesside Steelers
Martin, Rebecca (DL) - Teesside Steelers
Riggall, Emma (WR) - Teesside Steelers

Marwood, Beverley (DB) - Teesside Steelers

Robson, Lindsey (OL) - Teesside Steelers

Mott, Lucy (OL) - London Warriors

Anderson, Jessica (TE/WR) - Hertfordshire Tornadoes
Casey, Amanda (LB) - Hertfordshire Tornadoes

Davis, Clare (Oli) (WR) - Hertfordshire Tornadoes

Hunt-Brown, Amy (TE/WR) - Hertfordshire Tornadoes
Kersse, Sian (RB) - Hertfordshire Tornadoes

Rollinson, Vicci (DL) - Hertfordshire Tornadoes

Hand, Samantha (DB) - Hertfordshire Tornadoes

Seymour, Dawn (OL) - Solent Thrashers
Robinson, Julia (DB) - Solent Thrashers

Changing Sides

So what is it like changing sides? Is the other side of the fence greener? After a season in the O as Running Back for Birmingham Lions and then Great Britain why did I switch to Defense.

Lions Coach Defensive Coordinator James Branagh spoke to me pre season and asked if I would run at D for the 2015 Season and I agreed as it helped the team out. I have always been able to pretty much turn my hand to any position in a team in most sports and thought it would be great to get exposure the other side of the ball. Plus on a personal note it would be great to be the “Hunter and not the Hunted” for a while. As a running back every carry, every yard made or lost is under scrutiny. You set off heart thumping with every snap, adrenaline pumping desperate to get the yards. Not only thinking about the hand off, the route, the lane the O Line are trying to create but thinking about where are those linebackers, the hunters, the players nightmares are made of looking to light you up so they can whoop and holler and high five each other. Now I would be one of them. The menaces, the self proclaimed team athletes.

Pre season practises under my belt and a fantastic opportunity to play outside linebacker in France earlier this year in Birmingham Lions friendly international game against Paris Sparkles cemented me in to the D. With the Lions defending the UK championship hitting the ground running was the call and being in a defense known for its hard hitting, no messing, power houses I had to find that Hunter in me and make running backs my prey. Lining them up, ready for that big hit, my time to deliver and BOOM! Impact, force, collision, high fives, whoops, cheers! Why did I ever think this might not be for me? Who wants to get hunted when you can be a hunter.

Sapphire Series Final Day

The BAFA Women’s Sapphire Series comes to an exciting conclusion today as the teams battle it out to be crowned champions.

The event started early at the University of Derby, home of the Derby Braves who will be looking to finish high in the rankings after an impressive season so far.

Overall 13 teams are in action as they look to finish as high up in the rankings as possible. The team to beat are the formidable Birmingham Lions as they are currently unbeaten in their 6 games to date and have outscored opponents 319-6.

They are only one game ahead of Leeds Beckett who has had an impressive season, and then the Teesside Steelers and Braves come in with a 4-2 record. Manchester Titans are currently 2-4, with Edinburgh Wolves yet to pick up a win. The Northern Conference is held up by two teams that will not complete a full slate of games; they are the Sandwell Steelers at 1-3 and Chester Romans at 0-2.

In the South it’s the Hertfordshire Tornadoes who are leading the way, also with a 6-0 record and the main threat to the Lions dominance. London Warriors follow at 5-1, and the Lions B side hold a 3-3 mark. The Royal Holloway Bears are 2-4, and Solent Iceni have just a single win coming into this weekend. Portsmouth Destroyers are 1-3.

It will be another action packed day and we aim to bring you all the results and a summary of the day very soon. Good luck to all involved as the Women’s game goes from strength to strength.

Lions on the prowl in France

With the Women’s game gaining momentum up and down the country, and of course it’s successful foray into Europe late last year with the Great Britain team defeating Sweden in Stockholm, it was perhaps only a matter of time before a club game was organised on the continent.

The Birmingham Lions, arguably the best team currently in the UK, have been a driving force in both promoting and supporting the growth of the game here. Only fitting then that they are the team to cross the channel in another first for the British women’s game.

On January 31st the Lions will travel 20km south of Paris to Villeneuve St.Georges to take on Les Sparkles in a 9v9 fully kited game. The French side will be taking a step down from their usual 11-a-side format, but this is also beneficial as they prepare for their federations first national championship in a couple of months.

“It’s going to be a significant challenge, we were only established in January 2014 and the only experience we’ve had (greater than 5-a-side) is with our Great Britain representatives last summer.” said Club Captain and quarterback Jo Kilby, “we want to keep raising the bar for the Lions and the sport as a whole”

A squad of 40 will travel the day before the game in preparation for the next day’s kickoff at 2pm. The game will be played at Stade Gerard Roussel.

Image courtesy of Whizzyfingers Photography; Graphics - Jean-Paul J Neveu

Womens game taking off in 2015

If you weren’t already aware more and more women are picking up the pads and putting on a lid in this country, it is one of the fastest growing participation sports and has several ways to start playing. From organised flag football through to full 11v11 kitted, if you want to play there’s a way.

We have been lucky enough in the past year to have two of Great Britain team players write for the site, and we’ve been quite active in following the women’s game.

There is development days each month and the popular Sapphire Series will once again be upon us. If you would like to know more you can follow them on twitter @BAFAWomen or contact Jim Messenger who is the Head of Women’s football directly at jim.messenger@britishamericanfootball.org

2015 is looking bigger and brighter than ever before. Confirmation that Great Britain will be playing a European Championship Qualifier against Russia, this has come off the back of a successful first ever 11v11 full kitted game against Sweden in Stockholm.

This trip was documented and put onto a video which put together by Luke Plastow who also is the Defensive Line coach for the team. Hopefully this film will give you great insight, and give you the incentive to start playing.

Team GB v Sweden - Match Preview

Taking on Sweden will be a team assignment
 

 All the practice we can do has now been done, we know our play-books, and we’ve got our schedule, our travel documents and our uniforms: it now feels like we’re one team, on one mission. It’s no longer about our club sides, in fact it hasn’t been for some time, which thankfully is as it should be as I’ve always thought the biggest challenge facing us was in regards to our ability to gel and bond as a group, coaches and staff included. More so than getting everything absolutely right on the day, our greatest strength now will lie in our unity - we get that right and everything else will look after itself, whatever the final result. 
 

And surely that’s what it’s all about no? Performing to the best of your ability so as to ensure your team performs to the best of its ability. For 90% of the team, the first game of 11 aside football we’ve had was against each other, and that took place at the end of June, this year! A couple of months practice for the newly formed Great Britain team doesn’t match-up to the experience the Swedish team already has under their belt, so we must accept the challenge we face and embrace it… and personally, I can’t wait.
 

Heart and passion, guts and glory, we’re going to Sweden to compete, to the very last whistle, but we’re also going to learn, to absorb, to soak up the pressure, the hits, the completions, the tackles, the touchdowns(?!) and everything in between. All of it, this opportunity kindly afforded us by Sweden's hospitality, will hopefully act as a spring-board for women’s football in this country, so that in the months and years to come, we don’t just turn up on foreign shores expecting to simply gain experience, but instead, to contend, to battle and to win.
 

Who knows what will happen on Saturday. I hope we raise a few eyebrows, maybe create a few waves across Europe, but one thing I do know for sure is that after taking the field together, come the game’s final play, we’ll be walking off of it proud of what we’ve achieved in representing Great Britain Women’s American Football

 

Team GB Squad and Catchup

Diamond 3 has been and gone, a strong showing from the Red Diamonds helping them to the inaugural BAFA Diamond Series title, with two wins out of three. With only a handful of days’ 11 a-side experience underneath the majority of players’ belts a good display of run, pass and defensive scores evidenced a successful game - from Great Britain Head Coach Jim Messenger’s point of view: “These women came together from a variety of clubs and backgrounds, some with no football experience at all, to play the full version of the game for the first time. This is a remarkable achievement and our players, coaches and all involved behind the scenes should be very proud of what has been achieved so far.”

Proud indeed, but a broad smile and pats on backs don’t stop there as Coach Messenger, from this small group of pioneers, has now assembled a first ever fully sanctioned Great Britain Women’s team - who will be travelling to Stockholm for a September 20th fixture against the well-established Swedish national side. We caught up with a few of the newly assembled team to see how they felt about the challenge that lies ahead and about what making BAFA-history feels like:

 “It’s all starting to sink in now” observed Lions’ QB Jo Kilby “We’ve had a couple of training sessions and whilst we’re making progress, we’re under no illusions as to the size of the task that lies ahead – to take on an experienced and well-organised outfit like Sweden, in Stockholm, with limited experience of the full version of the game is going to be a fixture of David and Goliath proportions, but you have to love the challenge, right?”

 Indeed you have, in fact being under-dogs is surely a cherished tag for these Brits, “…well it certainly manages expectations doesn’t it!” commented Kilby with a wry grin, but don’t be too deceived, amongst the 40-woman squad due to travel to Stockholm, Great Britain have assembled a core of keen athletes, including those with previous international sports’ experience: “It just adds to our dynamic” offers Teesside Steeler, Bev Marwood, "The fundamentals of most sports are transferrable so what we gain from these personnel is not just their physical prowess but their vital experience within these sorts of high-pressured, high-intensity environments.”

 

BAFA’s first ever Great Britain Women’s American Football team to face Sweden in Stockholm on Saturday 20th Saturday, has followed National Championship form, and as such is dominated by the Birmingham Lions, but a number of rookies, pleasingly unearthed through the Diamond Series this summer, also feature:

 

Birmingham Lions

Nena Killick (DB)

Jo Kilby (QB)

Nancy Stone (DB)

Aimee Cottingham (DL)

Michelle Gwynne (OL)

Alice-Mary Smith (LB)

Polly Danks (OL)

Laura Moore (RB)

Phoebe Schecter (LB)

Steph De-Haven (RB)

Ruth Matta (RB)

Antoinette Morgan (RB)

Jemma Nixon (LB)

Michelle Ruddock (DL)

Becky Williams (DL)

 

Hertfordshire Tornadoes

Amanda Casey (LB)

Sarah Glassborrow (WR)


Teesside Steelers

Charlotte Lewis (DL)
Joanne Mann (DB)
Beverley Marwood (WR)
Emma Riggall (WR)

Lindsey Robson (OL)

 

Derby Braves

Samantha Hand (DB)

Danielle Raymont (DL)

Verity Snell (LB)

 

Farnham Knights
Laura Hill (OL)

Portsmouth Destroyers
Victoria Law (LB)

 

Sandwell Steelers
Lauren Mills (OL)
Vicci Rollinson (DL)

 

Northants Titans
Hannah Pye (WR)

 

Cornish Tiger Sharks

Haley Gillians (OL)
 

UEA Pirates
Angelie Dela Cruz (QB)

 

Southampton Stags

Julia Robinson (DB)

Lucy Mott (OL)
Jenna Alnajar (QB)

 

BAFA Diamonds/Unsigned

Sian Kersse (RB)

Clare Davies (WR)

Hollie Roach (DL

Dawn Seymour (LB)
Collette Wong (DB)

 

 “We will try to build on the abilities we have in compensating for our players legitimate lack of football knowledge” added Coach Messenger, “there's no short-cut to obtaining experience in sport, you have to play to gain that and this a great learning opportunity for us as we look to build a team that can genuinely challenge internationally in the future. Equally, this event is about elevating the profile and awareness of American Football for women in the UK so we can grow the sport and look to having a bigger pool of players for future GB selections."

 Such ambition is shared by many as the team look to themselves and each other to also help progress the sport; “…this feels like an opportunity to do something important for women in sport” offered rookie, Collete Wong, “I feel immensely proud to be representing my country and I can’t say enough good things about how challenging, rewarding and exciting this sport is. I’ve now got 39 new team-mates who I want to work hard for so we can all do ourselves proud come September 20th.”

Opportunity.  Excitement. Pride.  These aren’t a bad set of motifs coming out of the women’s game at the moment, so should this be the only thing that BAFA judges the success of its latest endeavour on, we’d say things are looking pretty good for the women’s football right about now. We’ll bring you more news of our Great Britain Women in the build up to their departure to Sweden, but for now good luck to all the team and staff with their preparations.

 #gogb

 #projectstockholm

TEAM GB Practice Squad announced

 

The BAFA Women’s Diamond Series was played out to great acclaim and huge participation. As well as a platform for getting the Women’s game in tune for 11v11, it was also acted as trials for the upcoming Team GB visit to Sweden in late September.


After evaluating the talent on hand during the three Diamond games it was time to select a provisional practice squad for this month’s scrimmages.


Below is a list of those that were lucky enough to have their names called.


Alnajar, Jenna

 Casey, Amanda
Cottingham, Aimee
Danks, Polly
Davies, Oli
DeHaven, Steph
Dela Cruz, Angelie
Gillians, Haley
Glassborow, Sarah
Gwynne, Michelle
Hand, Sam
Hill, Laura
Kerrse, Sian
Kilby, Jo
Killick, Nena
Law, Vicky
Lewis, Charlotte
Mann, Jo
Marwood, Beverley
Matta, Ruth
Mills, Lauren
Moore, Laura
Morgan, Antoinette
Mott, Lucy
Nixon, Jemma
Pye, Hannah
Rafferty, Becky
Raymont, Danielle
Riggall, Emma
Roach, Holly
Robinson, Julia
Robson, Lindsey
Rollinson, Vicci
Ruddock, Michelle
Schecter, Phoebe
Seymour, Dawn
Smith, Alice
Snell, Verity
Stone, Nancy
Williams, Becky
Wong, Collette


Diamond Series - Game 2 report

The University of Hertfordshire and their superb facilities again playing host to BAFA’s fast-progressing women’s development programme saw some superb displays on show as players with more confidence and familiarity started to come to the fore.

Things couldn’t have started any better for the Red Diamonds than they did courtesy of Teesside Steelers’ Bev Marwood’s 45 yard opening kick-off return. With field position and the bit firmly between their teeth the Red’s would not be stopped this far out and crashed over on play three for the opening score, Lions’ Ruth Matta cutting against the grain to scythe through the coverage (6-0).

Blue team linebacker Phoebe Schecter cameoing on the kick off made good yards on the ensuing return to set her team up 33 yards out and with unsigned Sian Kersse starting off where she left things in game one it wasn’t long before she crashed into the end zone to level things up (6-6).

With the next phase of Red play proving less than progressive Hertfordshire’s Tornado Sarah Glassborrow moved from Receiver to Punter to ease the pressure and that she did with a fine 40 yard kick. The Blues started their drive effectively enough but some loose handling from go-to Running Back Kersse allowed the Red’s to pounce and the first turnover of the day was announced.

Some great down field blocking by unsigned Oli Davies and Northants’ Titans flag specialist Hannah Pye, made the room for a big carry from Lions’ running back Laura Moore but the drive stalled there after a series of back-field mis-fires required the punt team to return to the field.

As per last week both defences then stepped up to dictate play, red zone encounters from the Red Diamonds on two occasions proved fruitless as the D-line, on both sides of the ball, worked tirelessly to harry and hustle.

The teams were split apart shortly before half-time courtesy of a compromised punt snap - Marwood’s pressure paying dividends as she charged and recovered the Blue’s kick in the end zone for the score that would see the Red Diamonds break clear and never look back (12-6).

A well-constructed touchdown by the Red team, orchestrated by Quarterback Jo Kilby, delivered by her O-line and finished off by Matta’s silky lines was suitable reward for a great team drive that travelled from third to fourth quarter and helped to control the clock (18-6).

The Blue team had their chances to respond and whilst it wasn’t endeavour they lacked, it was application - ball control proving their Achilles heel - and with Laura Hill and Julia Robinson becoming ever more dominant for the Red team’s defence fumbles and turnovers ensued, simply handing possession back to growing-in-confidence Red’s – who again delivered, Marwood grabbing the honours, but with more than a pat on the back for Pye who in sealing her Corner gave the Steeler the outside and the final score of the day (24-6).  

The Red and Blue Diamonds next take to the field on Saturday 26th July at Bedford International Stadium for a winner takes all decider. Kick-off is 2.30pm, Supporters very welcome.

 

 

Diamond Series - Game 1 report

For the first ever BAFA Diamond Series game of women’s 11 a-side football in the UK you’d think the game would have been a fractured affair – the overwhelming majority of girls having never played the full version of the game before, the defense having owned the offense for the main-stay of previous practice sessions, just two reasons to cause concern, but the truth of the matter is, it wasn’t.

Playing, as we were, to full game rules, but 12 minute quarters, by the time we got on the field it was almost time to come off, a certain case of time flies when you’re having fun most certainly being the apt descriptor in this scenario.

Immediately upon taking the field the Red Diamond’s offense moved the chains, good carries from Birmingham Lion’s running back, Ruth Matta, as well as multiple receptions from Northants Titans’ Hannah Pye, pressuring the Blue Diamonds hard-working defense, but whilst they flexed they would not break, and with nothing to show for their endeavours the Reds handed over the ball 28yds out.

The  Blue team’s offense however were taking no prisoners, an impressive debut from (unsigned rookie) Sian Kersse saw her stealing yards galore on her way to the end-zone and with a two-PAT attempted but not converted the nominated away-side stole first blood together with the lead and relinquished neither for the remainder of the game.

 Following a much needed breather the second quarter was a more mooted affair with both sides cancelling each other out following the frenzy of kick off. Birmingham’s Nancy Stone took her team-mate Laura Moore’s punt back for a fine gain before the end of the half but with the Red team’s defence in no further mood for conviviality, there was nothing further coming as Teesside Steelers Bev Marwood’s unit closed the door on the half.

The second half period started with the Blue defence turning the screw, Hertfordshire Tornado Amanda Casey in tandem with Derby Brave Verity Snell both policing from line-backer, started to quash the easier yards the red’s had taken earlier in the game – the contest soon thereafter descended into a battle of wills and as such a battle of defences, but it was again the Blue’s who came out on top – Birmingham Strong Safety Nena Killick, picking the interception, retuned for a touchdown, to kill off the game (0-12).

With some impressive performances from a number of first timers including the aforementioned Kersse, Sandwell Steelers Natalie Taylor as well as a thoroughly compelling tackling display from (the currently unsigned) Dawn Seymour - the future looks pretty bright for BAFA’s Diamond Series right about now – and with Game 2 only a few days away, we ask: where are you going to be?

Diamond Series Game 2 – University of Hertfordshire (De Havilland Campus), Kick off 4pm

LFL or Kitted? The great debate

Fully kitted Women’s American Football is becoming a real force to be reckoned with in the UK over the past year. The USA has been the world leaders for decades. Women doing combat, pitting themselves against each other physically and mentally, building the bond of team sport.

 

There are other versions of the sport and I wanted to look at the LFL – Lingerie Football League, not in a direct comparison to fully kitted but maybe as an insight to the LFL.

 

LFL style football in the UK is not a big crowd puller and it has barely got off the ground (Ed.note: it has since been brought to our attention that founder of the LFL, Mitch Mortaza, is keen to relaunch the LFL in the UK) but I spoke to Phoebe Schecter Birmingham Lions and GB Linebacker, Defensive MVP 2014 who has played LFL before converting to fully kitted football.

 

When Phoebe came over to the UK from the USA she tried out for LFL Manchester and made the team, they had practises and promotional events but nothing further. The franchise is now in hibernation.

 

Laura Moore – Do you think LFL players could stand up to the brutality and physicality of kitted games?

Phoebe Schecter  – There are some serious athletes that play LFL on both offense and defence, some people maybe don’t see past the uniform

 

LM – Kitted football has a variety of build types playing the game. I have never seen a typical D Line player starring in the advertisements. Is this because they would not be included or encouraged to play LFL?

PS – I am not sure they would necessarily be discouraged but I believe it would not be encouraged. Unfortunately not many people want to watch ‘bigger’ girls running around in smaller sized uniforms.

 

LM – If these women are athletes why do they choose in your opinion to play in a bikini and with little protection?

PS – I think originally it was a way to play a sport they loved and get paid some sort of benefit. Unfortunately as all female American football players know we all have to pay to play with no sign of being treated like men’s teams any time soon. I think that it is great that these girls are proud of their bodies and how much hard work they put into them. To me being muscular and athletic is a better role model than skinny and unrealistic

 

LM – Do you think LFL teams are able to gain sponsorship and publicity more readily than kitted teams?

PS – Even though I don’t agree with it, I do think the LFL will have an easier time getting promoted. They reach out to a specific population of students and men. Guys go and enjoy their favourite three things –Beer, Women and sport all in one location.

 

Now the LFL in the UK is small fry compared to what it has been previously in the US but it’s fizzled out even there. Have people realised its gimmick, are people now wanting to watch Women play the game fully kitted and compete at the highest level with the same kit, the same rules and the same passion as the men. One of the worlds highest profile female footballers Jen Welter agreed to give her take on LFL. She has been playing for 13 seasons in Women’s Pro football and this season was the first female Running Back to play Men’s Pro football with Texas Revolution. Her honours and achievements are a credit to her hard work and dedication.

 

Laura Moore  – What is your opinion of the LFL?

Jen Welter  – The LFL is an entertainment experience designed to suit the male desire to see women in lingerie playing a game of football. The rules are modified to make it more like flag than like professional football. Women playing in full kit challenges what were once viewed as the final frontier in sports. It is empowering. It shows women can do anything, and that girls can be anything when they grow up. Playing a modified, pacified, half dressed version of football shows that women are valued as spectacles rather than serious athletes.

 

LM – Do you think LFL players could as a whole stand up to the physicality/brutality of kitted games?

JW – The question really is about the motivation of the players. Do players in lingerie care more about showing their bodies or playing football? And no I don’t. Though some of the lingerie players have played and could play kitted football, the majority could not and have chosen not to.

To be perfectly blunt in 2013 there were open try outs for Team USA, and out of well over 200 of the absolute best players in the USA, only 1 was from the LFL. If you really believed you were among the elite football players in the world, would you want to represent your country?

 

LM – I have never seen what is a typical O Line/D line build of player starring in LFL games or advertisements. Is this because they would not be included or encouraged to play by LFL teams?

JW – LFL teams have image standards, so no, there is no place in the LFL for the female equivalent of what you would see in the NFL playing on the O Line or D Line. Players are chosen on image first, ability only after the image requirements are fulfilled. Further, I have heard from girls who were benched for games due to “weight violations.”

 

LM – If these women are sports orientated and athletic why do they choose in your opinion to play in a bikini and with limited protection?

JW – Again this goes back to primary motivation. Are you interested in promoting yourself as a model or an athlete first, and how do you want others to see you? I personally know I could not be the player I am without proper gear and full kit. I would have turf burn covering my entire body, and that doesn’t look or feel good.

 

LM – Does the publicity and the larger crowds pull women away from the kitted game?

JW – In some cases yes. However the LFL is all sizzle and little substance. There are many cases of burned bridges and false promises. The league uses girls, and everyone is deemed replaceable.

 

LM – In the USA do LFL teams get more in the way of publicity and sponsorship?

JW – All I can say is that the perception you seem to have of the LFL is not the reality here in the states. Though there was once a pop of interest it was short lived. It never picked up the way it was initially billed which led to a downgrade in quality of players, venues, coaches and sponsors. Too many people saw there was really no substance in the LFL organisation. When the USA figured out the truth, that’s when they targeted other countries that were less football savvy. It’s unfortunate really. I hate to think that other countries believe it is actually viewed as football here in the states.

 

 

I have to say a huge thanks to Jen Welter for her time and completely honest viewpoint on what the LFL is, has been and certainly isn’t in the States. Her opinion and her clarity of some of the finer details of LFL certainly raise a few eyebrows. I guess questions is leaves me with are did it never take off herein the UK fully as women just didn’t get behind it, saw through the hype and realised it wasn’t going anywhere? Did the women involved with LFL in the UK as Phoebe Schecter mentioned in her motivation just want to play football and have that as their only available version at the time?

I know of a handful of players in the UK who have come from an LFL background including Phoebe and they are up there battling, fighting and smashing fully kitted football, these women are athletes. But as rightly pointed out by Jen that’s down to their personal motivation and what they see themselves as in the start. Model or Athlete?

What is clear to see from both interviews is that these women are fully focused and committed to the game. Kitted football for women, playing hard, training hard and believing in themselves and the team. 

Welcome to the Diamond Series

 

The National Sapphire Finals have been and gone but instead of sitting back and revelling in the last few months, the caretakers of our game aren’t standing still, they’re moving onwards and upwards and taking the game with them….welcome to the first ever, Diamond Series!

 

Diamond football is BAFA’s brain-child and with its inception, it hopes 11 aside women’s football will be borne, or at the very least introduced and then trialled by a first ever Great Britain women’s team.

 

Since May players have been attending BAFA sponsored development sessions in order to learn and up-skill themselves in the fundamentals of 11 aside football, all in preparation for a series of three games to be played between the Red Diamonds and the Blue Diamonds - the first of which kicks off this Saturday at 2.30pm at the University of Hertfordshire.

 

“This time last year we had less than 60 women playing football” commented GB women’s Head Coach Jim Messenger , “…but in the last 12 months participation has increased by more than 300%; the progress at our pre-Diamond development days has been excellent and the high attendances have allowed us to progress at a great pace”

With opportunities and numbers on the rise, so also, are new teams – last year’s GB captain, Bev Marwood is a player and General Manager at the newly formed Teesside Steelers: “Women's football in the UK is being taken seriously and it’s growing, there are new players out there ready for the 11 aside challenge and the Diamond Series is going to be a massive opportunity for them and everyone involved.”

Everyone like Birmingham Lions’ cornerback Jemma Nixon….“it's amazing that I could be in with a chance of representing Great Britain in a sport I only took up five months ago. I’m hoping to learn new skills playing Diamond football and to bench-mark myself against some of the best players in the country.”

Having cleverly combined both participation with opportunity right from the start (rather than devise an elite pathway that segregates the perceived ‘best’ from ‘the rest’) BAFA are now happily reaping the rewards – numbers are up, interest is high, standards are rising. “Development days and Diamond football is about giving people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and abilities the chance to play and to be a part of our community”, affirms Hertfordshire Tornado and GB line-backer Amanda Casey, “that’s the simplest reason why we’re seeing women’s football in this country grow because people who want to play, can and people who do, enjoy it!”

 

With each Diamond team running the same play-book, all games will take place under the watchful eyes of Great Britain Head Coach Messenger and his coaching staff, who will subsequently select their first ever 11-aside national squad directly from the Diamond Series contingent.

 

Exciting times lie ahead for women’s American Football in this country, and one might say, it’s no less than this industrious bunch deserve.  To follow their progress, or to get involved, visit facebook.com/BAFAWomen for more information.  

 

Diamond dates: 28th June @ University of Hertfordshire (De Havilland campus), 12th July @ Lichfield Rugby Club and 26th July @ Bedford International Stadium.

Just recently the Womens Sapphire Series was played out to its conclusion on a terrific Finals Day played at Lichfield Rugby ground. The Sapphire event has been a huge success in the development and growth of the sport here in the UK. It is a 5v5 game that is fast and furious and as you will see below from the highlight reel there are some dynamic plays. The clip is of the Birminham Lions, who after a slow start to the campaign ended up at the top of the rankings and ran out comfortable winners against the Hertfordshire Tornadoes.

 

We will be bringing you much more coverage over the coming weeks as the development days continue and the GB trials begin. For now enjoy the highlights of the Lions season.