Pulling The Flag

Something To Call My Own

Jade Archibald gave flag a shot and got hooked, but at one point it looked like she was drifting away from the sport. Then came the event which inspired her to set up a whole new team for women in Northants. This is her story.

As we all know, flag football is open to anyone.

Well, we know that now, since most people reading this article will be part of the flag football culture. However, before you are part of this world, you have to take that first step and make the decision to join a team.

Why did I do it? In truth, it was about turning 30, having two kids and a high pressure job, and not having anything to call my own.

This is where Northants Titans came into play. I got exposure to it via my husband Dan Archibald, who is one of the founders of the Titans along with Luke Gambrill and Wayne Ledger. I decided that I would give it a shot.

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The idea of running around for two hours every Sunday scared the bejesus out of me, if I’m honest. I remember the first training session well. It was me and one other females (Hannah Pye) in a team of hyped-up men, all competing for alpha-male status.

It was daunting to say the least. But I need not have worried. From day one, everyone was so supportive. The guys would cheer and praise every time I caught a ball or made a tackle. It wasn’t long before it felt really good, and I was getting the hang of things.

I always had doubts in my own head about my ability to absorb the content and coaching, and it felt like really slow progress in the beginning, until our very first game day. Yes, I was slightly slow out of the starting blocks, but as middle linebacker, I was actually making tackles, slowing the offense’s center down, and even having a few collisions on the field.

Being a part of the senior league taught me skills that are invaluable: courage, strategy, confidence and most of all to STAND YOUR GROUND. However, as the guys got more and more competitive and I had childcare responsibilities, I couldn’t make as many training sessions or gamedays. I started to fall out of love with flag and eventually I threw in the towel……for a whole three weeks.

Then came my epiphany, in the form of Andrew Gambrill. Andrew invited me to take part in a women’s scratch team, playing at one of the NuOla shields. I went along, as having the opportunity to play with an all-female team was very intriguing. I had loads of questions: Would it be the same? Was the level of tactics, athleticism and enthusiasm the same? I wasn’t disappointed and needless to say, I fell back in love with flag, but of the female variety. I was energised!

If other counties across the country could start teams up, then by jove so could the Titans! After a few weeks of planning, and working with Titans coaches Luke Gambrill and Dan Archibald. we did it…. Northants Titans Ladies Team was born.

The ladies team provided me with a whole new set of challenges. In order to have effective training sessions we needed a QB, so I set about learning to play that position. It wasn’t easy, but we persevered. We recruited and grew, and after six months of training we found ourselves playing in the Opal series, where we finished second.

I am immensely proud of what the team has achieved in its first year of existence, but it wouldn’t have been possible without going through the pain, learning from it, and surrounding myself with some amazing team-mates.

Sometimes you have to fall. Sometimes you need to fail. Because when you get back up, when you make things you never thought were possible actually happen, you can stand back and say: “I did that. I didn’t give up and I made something to call my own”.

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