American Football is one of the rising sports in the United Kingdom, and indeed, across Europe. The National Football League (NFL), who govern football in the United States of America have even said that the UK can expect to have an NFL franchise based in London within five or six years time.
People often associate American Football as being a male dominated sport and it is widely perceived that it is a male-only game. However, at university level it is classed as a mixed sport. The Cardiff Cobras American football team even welcomed its first female player last year, in Fiona Quimbre, who trained and played with the men – with no special allowances. This season has seen more women take up the sport, with Bristol Barracuda recruiting multiple female players for their team.
The women’s game is growing at a rapid level, especially in the UK. The Great Britain Women’s American Football team is currently ranked 2nd in Europe having won silver at the Euros. The British American Football Association (BAFA) has set targets to increase the participation of the women’s game with the ambition of setting up a team in the South Wales area. As an initial development they have funded a taster session to increase the awareness of the sport and gather interest in the area- the first step to building a local team. With students from an array of academic institutions in the South Wales area, this was a prime target area for try outs.
BAFA’s Head of Women’s Football Development and GB Head Coach, Jim Messenger believes that the chance of a women’s team in the area is thrilling, he said: “We are really excited by this opportunity to bring women’s American football to South Wales, a region that has a very strong tradition for sports. Women’s American football has been growing fast over the last three years. It’s undoubtedly a revelation to see just how many women are excited about the chance to play the game.”
Messenger outlined the strategy for boosting the interest in the sport, he said: “Our aim is simply to fulfill the demand for thousands of females who probably thought they would never have the opportunity to try the game, be part of a team and potentially even go on to represent Great Britain.”
Cardiff Cobras Assistant Head Coach and Special Teams Co-ordinator, Simon Browning, echoed these thoughts, saying: “For the last few years the Cobras have seen a rise in interest from potential female players. This development is a great way to allow women another route into the sport.”
The coach, who masterminded the Cobras’ 19-17 win against Swansea at the 2015 Varsity added: “American Football is a sport that thrives on diversity. The different positions mean that there is a place for everyone on the team”.
The open try-outs will be held on Saturday 13th February at Talybont Sports & Social centre and Messenger added: “We are very grateful to our friends in the South Wales American football community for their assistance in staging this event. We hope it is the start of something special and captures the imagination and support of the local community. I look forward to the event and the day that a women’s team, based in Wales, joins the national women’s league.”
No previous experience is required to play the sport, so it’s certainly worth giving it a go, and, who knows, it could be you on the Great Britain American Football team in the near future. Details can be found the Facebook Event by searching BAFA Women’s Football.