Each fortnight, SCAN brings you an exclusive inside peek at one of our fantastic sports clubs. Read about what they get up to, and get the latest on how they are representing Lancaster in competitive sport around the country.
This week’s Club Column takes in one of the fastest-growing sports nationwide. American Football has seen a huge spike in popularity over the last few years; since 2007, an NFL (National Football League, the American Football equivalent of the Premier League in America) game has been played annually at Wembley Stadium. With every game, bar two, drawing an attendance of over 80’000 people and the September 24th, 2017 game drawing a record 84’592 for a game between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, it’s clear that there exists a huge UK appetite for America’s favourite sport. In this week’s edition of Club Column, SCAN will analyse what is prompting this huge increase in following while also talking to American Football President Fisayomi Falana, as he explains why the Lancaster Bombers are the best sporting experience on offer at Lancaster University.
There is little doubt that the sport is expanding hugely across the country. The latest statistics taken from the NFL UK website lists the number of Adult, full-contact players as having grown 18.8% last year, while Women’s football has increased by a massive 80%. The Bombers, despite being predominantly male, do offer anyone the chance to play and even boast a strong female wide-receiver amongst their ranks. They pride themselves on being one of the most inclusive societies on campus, with many slots also available to non-playing members who are simply willing to help out and spend time supporting the hard-working players who take to the field. When asked for his thoughts on the naturally open nature of the Sport, Fisayomi said ‘With 25 positions and 55 slots on a full roster you are almost guaranteed to fit in somewhere, so American Football is the perfect introductory sport for those of all shapes and sizes. If you’re worried about the cost of taking up a Sport with a typically high financial barrier, rest assured that the club provides all members with pads and a helmet during training and games. In addition to all these other amazing possibilities, we also have several non-playing roles which you may be more suited to your strengths as an individual. This allows you to take part and benefit from the fantastic atmosphere and community-feel the club offers while still feeling like you’re giving back’.
The versatility of players has always been American Football’s greatest strength. Typically, due to the high-impact nature of the game, the general public tend to associate the NFL with massive linebackers, as wide as they are tall and all standing at well over 6ft. However, this is simply not the case. The most famous example in recent years has been an NFL player called Darren Sproles, a 5ft 6in, 190 pound running back who has still managed to have teams ‘designing game plans just to stop him’. That isn’t to say that much bigger players won’t equally find a home within American Football; Jonathan Ogden, a hall of famer widely considered one of the greatest left tackles in NFL history stands at a huge 6ft 9in. This demonstrates how variety is the spice of life in American football and this trend continues with the Bombers.
Victory is a key component for any sporting team and the Lancaster Bombers are no different. The team have enjoyed steady success over the last number of years and plan on going from strength to strength. Over the coming months, the team are all focused on securing on progressing as a unit and securing promotion; all this preparation and work building to a hotly anticipated clash with York at the home Roses in 2018. We asked Fisayomi about his ambitions for the team this year as well as his personal highlights from his time playing American Football at Lancaster. ‘With two successive seasons of good recruitment we now have a current squad of around sixty players. This is perfect for our goal to promoted at the end of the season. In terms of my own personal highlights, my first competitive sack against Heriot Watt Uni where I made an open field diving tackle behind the line of scrimmage to force a 3 and out’
As ever, the best way to be able to take advantage of this amazing opportunity is to get involved! You can do this by liking the page on Facebook (‘Lancaster Bombers American Football’), attending training (which takes place from 12 on Sundays at the 3G pitches, from 9 on Thursdays on the Astroturf and from 8 on Tuesdays at the Astroturf) or even simply coming down to watch a match. Finally, we asked Fis to sum up why American Football is something you should strongly consider getting involved with: ‘There are countless reasons but the top three would have to be: 1) lots of cardio, those looking to get in shape can do so very quickly. 2) A whole load of fun: with at least eight socials a term and two social secs, you’re guaranteed a fantastic night out and finally, 3) The team spirit is almost unmatched – weekly informal meals and drinks while watching the Sunday evening games, as well as at least three smart-casual 3 course meals attended by the full team and coaches’