News - The Phoenix Nest
|Posted on 12 October, 2016 at 7:45|
As touched upon previously I first got involved in the sport in the late 80's interest was high but access to involvement was a challenge, teams came and went popping up and disappearing as seasons came and went. I remember once heading off on holiday with my parents and stopping off somewhere on the South coast for lunch, it was a small pub but overlooked a sports centre and as I ate I watched seemingly hundreds of men in full battledress doing jumping jacks and counting at the top of their lungs, it happened to be the Brighton B52's training session. I had never seen such coordinated and well drilled practices in any sport I had been involved with. My football training usually consisted of me standing in goal while every other member of the team took great delight shooting at me from point blank range, you had to make sure you saved everything as with no goal nets walking to get the ball if you conceded one was a feat in itself! So my joy a few years later at finding a team on my doorstep, well a half hour bike ride, was fantastic. But this enthusiasm was tempered by the realism that the sport while popular was just not set up to support development and growth. Access to equipment depended on who was at training and what kit was left by former players or brought by a willing sponsor. The cost of being involved was high and time commitment to travel and play really ate into a weekend.
Fast forward 30 years and the sport is very different in the opportunities it provides. Some things still remain the same, clubs face constant challenges to keep themselves going, cost and time commitments remain higher than many other sports and the league structure is still a work in progress but there has been over the past few years a steady and consistent development of youth participation and opportunity.
Access to kit and equipment has never been better with a number of really good suppliers providing access to equipment I could only have dreamed of as a young players, coaching courses and training has never offered such a good opportunity for those who wish to teach and develop skills. It is perhaps this drive to improve coaches, coaching knowledge and most importantly delivery that is creating greater opportunities for young people to get involved in our sport than ever before. A young person wanting to get involved can do so now knowing that the coaches are able to get them playing to the best of their abilities with the best possible access to equipment that that organisation can provide. Any player now can reach the highest possible standards they wish whether that is local, regional, national and international, they can also focus on their preferred discipline with both Flag and Kitted football being played to the highest level through the age (and now gender) levels. It is only a matter of time before Schools, Colleges and even the NFL itself start paying more attention to a hither to untapped region of potential players and even coaches, to get involved in American Football now is not just a means to keep busy or partake in a hobby, today those getting involved from an early age can find themselves on a path to whatever destination they set themselves, O provides opportunity and today there are more opportunities through American Football than could have ever been imagined.