Pulling The Flag

BAFA’s Women’s Open Flag Football Tournament

I can’t believe it, Abington Park is becoming quite the home of American Football in Northampton right now! Already the home of flag side Northants Titans, Abington Park hosted the Cecil Martin training session last Thursday and now it will host a women’s BAFA Flag Football Tournament this Saturday.

Women’s football is on the up, with the contact side of the game having just finished the 3 game Diamond Series on the 26th July. The Diamond Series was part of a growing attempt to progress the women’s game to a capacity where it can sustain 11-a-side games. Prior to this, player development was in the context of 5-a-side and attendance had reached the point where two big teams could be formed to finally have women playing 11-a-side football. Furthermore the Diamond Series will play a key role in GB Head Coach Jim Messenger and his coaching staff selecting a squad to represent GB in a match against Sweden on the 20th of September. Team selection is still ongoing, with a squad likely to have been finalised on the 2nd of August.

Following the success of the Diamond Series, and bridging the gap before the Opal Series on October 25th will be Saturday’s tournament. The day is open to all women, regardless of experience. As things stand, around 7 teams will be represented at the tournament, with my very own Northants Titans sending 5 women to the event. Fresh from a coaching session from Andrew Gambrill last week, Jade Archibald, Hannah Smith, Hannah Pye, Becky Sparrow and Sarah Burrett will be showing off their newly developed skills at the tournament. Hannah Pye in particular will be in high spirits off the ‘Shining Diamond’ award that she won in the Diamond Series in recognition of her commitment and improvement throughout the series. Hopefully her ability will provide inspiration for many of the new players to continue with the sport.

Titans will not be the only new side involved, with Cheltenham Condors making their debut lead by former Elite Women’s Project player April Heath. Established sides in the form of the Portsmouth Destroyers, Birmingham Lions, Coventry Jets and champions Coventry Cougars will be in attendance. The Uni of Nottingham will also have players represented.

Coventry Cougars QB Millie Barrett taking on the Teesside Steelers in the Nuola Spring Break tournament.

This said, even if you aren’t affiliated with a side and are looking to get into the sport – not to worry. Andrew Gambrill will be on hand to support all of the free agents, whether that be on the day to just get into the sport, looking for a new team to play for, or even with help starting their own team.

Teams will be put together on the day and coached throughout so make some new friends and develop as a player!

Any women who really enjoy the experience could look to playing in the Nuola Summer Shield tournament in nearby Leicester on the 30th August as well, where there will be a women’s tournament, as well as the opportunity to play alongside the men too in the mixed sides!

Spectators are more than welcome and I will certainly be there too, so say hello if you see me! You can find more information on the Facebook event page here.

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