Lions’ European Matchup Beckons
Three weeks today and the Lions will be returning from Helsinki, from their most ambitious challenge to date – having competed in a 4-way 11-aside tackle tournament – the Diamond Bowl, featuring home-sides the Helsinki Roosters and the Tampere Saints, alongside Russian outfit, the St. Petersburg Valkyries.
For the Lions, a club team that has only played 5-aside football for two seasons, followed by three years of 7-aside football (played on a 35yd wide x 40yd long playing field, governed by 4 downs to get a 20 yard first down!) deciding to take on some of the best exponents of 11-aside football in Europe is most definitely validated as their most determined test to date and without argument the most advanced development for British women’s football since the British American Football Association’s inception.
But the Lions would claim they have some pedigree to take this leap of all leaps:
– they have played full field football, twice before, albeit at 9s, once in 2015 against French side, Les Sparkles in Paris and most recently in January 2017 against eventual Finnish Maple League champions, the Helsinki Wolverines, in Helsinki. They won both games.
– 13 of the current squad are recent GB internationals who have played 11 a-side football at both a European and World Championship level; an additional 2 players have been wider GB Practice Squad members and the Lions coaching ranks contain a current and former Great Britain DC and OC.
– Lions players have played in Finland and won and some of their contingent have also been part of GB sides that have both lost to and beaten a Finnish national side (containing Roosters’ and Saints’ players) at a major championships, equating to lessons learned to hopefully benefit the team heading to Helsinki in 2 ½ weeks’ time.
…but what’s the motivation to push on?
“We’ve been fairly dominant in the UK to date” offered Head Coach Jamie Kilby “…and this organisation needs to continue to cut its teeth.
“Having never played an 11-aside game together before, we cannot underestimate how tough this challenge will be, and that is exactly the reason why we want to take it on: to push the team and to show what’s possible with a bit of endeavour and application, alongside a squad that’s been building together year on year.
“The Lions are fierce competitors and with a roster bursting with talent, and in their prime, I’m confident we are going to surprise a few people.”
To follow the team’s progress throughout the Diamond Bowl – where a livestream to all games will be available, click here – in the meantime may we wish the whole squad the very best of luck with their preparations and we’re looking forward to seeing them flying the flag for Britball football with much #Pride.
Image graphic courtesy of Elisha Huxtable – original images © gw-images.com, Céline Bisson and MyLonelyTreeMedia photography.