Pulling The Flag

Lucie Stewart: Tackling GB Flag

Credit for the featured image to Garry Charles/MyLonelyTreeMedia

Despite a very important week ahead for myself at domestic level, I found some time this week to speak to London Warriors’ Lucie Stewart, who was called up for the first ever Women’s Great Britain flag football team. Rather than bore you all as I’m prone to doing – I’ll let Lucie do the talking [read – answering].

Lucie Stewart against Derby Braves in Opal Series 2014

Lucie Stewart against Derby Braves in Opal Series 2014 – Credit to Garry Charles/MyLonelyTreeMedia

NC – Hey Lucie, congratulations on making the first ever Great Britain team. How long have you been playing flag and how did you get into the sport? Which positions do you play?

LS – Thank you, I’m incredibly proud, it’s a fantastic opportunity! I played 4 months of flag before moving onto tackle in December of last year. I play corner, safety and blitzer positions. My good friend Jamie Charles plays football and I loved watching his games so last year I thought I’d try it for myself. How did I get into it…..when I made my first interception at a practice, I ran off the field and the coach fist pumped me whilst screaming ‘that’s defence!’ and my team mates cheered. That was the turning point when I decided to commit. So to answer your question, inspirational coaches and fantastic team mates, that’s how I got ‘into it’.

Lucie during the Opal Series 2014

Lucie during the Opal Series 2014

NC – Speaking of the GB squad, you’re to my knowledge the only player to have made both the GB kitted team as well as the flag side. How do you find juggling both sports and which do you prefer?

LS – I have a full time job too so it can be tough to fit the training in sometimes. When you love what you do it’s not about having time, you make time. I love the speed of the flag game and I love the dynamic of the 11 man field in tackle. As long as I am playing on the defensive side of the ball – I’m happy.

NC – You’re clearly all about the niche, you’re also to my knowledge, the only Scottish player in the squad, how does it feel being their sole representative?

LS – Haha I’m also the only Scottish person on the tackle squad too. I would like to see more Scottish girls enter the sport! Women’s football is under developed in Scotland at the moment and I’m not sure why that is. In flag Scottish seniors do well and I know we have talented athletes in Scotland. I think a women’s Scottish flag team would be a formidable force.

Pic courtesy of Dan Archibald

Pic courtesy of Dan Archibald

NC – There are several Scottish sides in the senior leagues, and they’ve had lots of success over the years, with former league side Kirkcaldy Bulls being the league’s most successful ever team, and Aberdeen Oilcats making the top 4 last season. Why hasn’t the women’s game taken off so much in Scotland do you think?

LS – As above I have no idea why it hasn’t taken off yet in Scotland.

NC – You play for London Warriors and you featured in the Opal Series last year where you finished 5th. What’s the next step for Warriors and do you see them having a shot at being national champs next season?

LS – We have gone from strength to strength as a team, 5th in flag and 3rd in tackle. With the continued commitment of the team, training and fantastic coaching we will come back stronger next season for sure.

Lucie and her London Warriors side

Lucie and domestic side London Warriors

NC – How much time do you spend outside of football working on your athleticism and fitness, and how important is that to you?

LS – Extremely important. One of the best WR in the game is [Warriors teammate] Hannah Flynne. My 5.30 alarm clock states ‘Hannah flyn is on her 3rd lap’ that motivates me. As a defensive back we have to be able to do everything the WR does but backwards. It varies depending on where we are in season. I train cardio in the mornings, mostly to get it out of the way. I weight train 3 times a week focusing on speed and explosive power. I eat to support my training. Crap in crap out and all that. I take being a Warrior seriously and I apply that same mentality to GB.

NC – With the upcoming European Championships, what are your personal goals for the tournament and how do you feel about stepping up to international level?

LS – I’m very excited about the championships; I play the game to play at the highest level. My personal goal is to win every single snap in which I play and to support my team mates to do the same. I will achieve this by knowing my assignment, giving 100% effort on and off the field and encouraging my team mates. Being coached by one of the best defensive coordinators in the country also helps. 😉

NC – Several of the players in the GB squad, the Coventry Cougar girls, April [Heath], Jenny [Cooper] and Tendai [Chieza] have featured in the senior league at some point and played regularly against men. Is this something that appeals to you in terms of competition?

LS – If the Warriors were to put forward a team I would love to get involved. However, with commitments to two GB teams and the Warriors I am playing a lot of football this year already!

NC – Did you expect to get picked for the GB flag side? What was your reaction when you found out you had made the team?

LS – I honestly had no expectation going into it. I have played 4 months of flag and I was aware some of the girls have been playing for 9 years. However, I knew the coaching I had received at the Warriors was the best in the country so I believed I was a competitor for a position. I was delighted; it really is an honour and a privilege to be picked for GB and to play with such a fantastic group of girls.

Lucie and coaches Seb and Dee Williams at the Warriors end of season meal

With coaches Seb Gogerly and Dee Williams at the Warriors end of season meal

NC – The women’s game is a massive niche and recruitment is one of the most powerful tools in improving the women’s sides, from grassroots, right through to the international side. How would someone as dedicated as you persuade a female athlete who had never played before to try out the sport?

LS – I love flag football and I think that comes across when I talk. I would encourage people to go along to your local team and give it a go! You never know, in a year’s time you could be interviewed by a rather dapper looking gentleman about your GB experience! (I didn’t realise they were getting rid of me next year! ;))

NC – Any last words Lucie?

LS – I would like to thank BAFA, the coaches and all the support staff that make the GB team possible.

NC – Thanks for your time!

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