With Super Bowl 53 firmly in the rear view mirror for NFL fans in the UK, there is still plenty of football to be enjoyed ahead of the new flag football season.
Leighton Steam, the town’s American football team, one of more than 300 clubs across the country, was formed last year and achieved a record of 11 wins, six losses and a draw in 2018, including winning a national trophy in October - not bad for their debut season.
The flag game, an alternative to full contact similar to tag rugby, allows for smaller-sized, mixed gender teams, extremely colourful kits, and most importantly, a little less stress on bodies, necessary given that gamedays consist of two games plus each weekend.
Defensive rookie of the year Greg Elliott said: “Last season we had a blend of experienced players and guys who had never played before.
“We worked our tails off and had an incredible first season.
“This time we’ve added two more rookies who are already up to speed and most importantly, we all get on well and want to win.” With the off-season underway, the Steam are working hard to build on their successful debut campaign.
Having already hosted their own pre-season tournament and now headed for a further friendly against Team GB women’s this weekend (with national coaches watching), the team have been placed in BAFA (British American Football Association) South Division 1, after becoming accredited earlier this year, successfully meeting various requirements through 2018.
Wide receiver Dan Spence added: “‘It’s difficult being our first season in the league. Before our tournament a couple of weeks back, we’d have probably been happy with a winning season (winning more games than they lose).
“However, having seen the way we played that day, against some strong opposition, including those in the National premier division, and the fact we improve every time we step on the field, I think we’ll be seriously disappointed if we don’t make the national playoffs.
“We’ve got excellent players on both offense and defense and although there’s a lot of unknowns regarding teams in our division, you wouldn’t see me swapping out any of our guys.”
Two more wins at the weekend against GB Ladies Gold and Silver took Steam to a 7-2 record over pre-season, with the league season set to get underway in a few weeks time.
>> If you are interested in trying out for the team, visit www.facebook/com/steamflag for more information.