#AFD | Panto season may be over but is the fairy godmother still around?

It’s not often you might put Fairy Godmothers and American Football together but we promise you they do exist.

Not convinced? Well, perhaps you should speak to some of the teams up and down the country who’ve had a Fairy Godmother visit them and brought them something along the lines of £10,000 cash in funding!

Ok, so maybe they don’t go as far as waving a magic wand (it would be helpful if it was that easy!) but the reality is, teams across the country have been able to make their funding wishes come true, thanks to the help and support from American Football Development Ltd and their amazing initiative that is the free Club Support Scheme.

At the end of 2016, the idea of a Women’s team at Kent Exiles was little more than that – an idea. In February 2018, the team will be entering their first ever Sapphire Series with money to get the team up and running, just part of a wider funding bid for the club.

Martin Jefkins of the team comments:

“While we have a great volunteer workforce we lacked the resources to be able to take advantage of the new participation levels. AFD really helped us in focusing our application’s needs into the right areas, writing the bid with us and answering any queries along the way. With the club committee juggling full-time jobs and running the club, their support took the pressure off while getting us the funds we desperately needed to expand.”

The situation at Kent Exiles is not unique as anyone involved in an American Football club knows. We all want to be able to do more to grow our clubs, that enthusiasm is not in doubt, but it isn’t so easy when you’re trying to hold down a full-time job as well as juggle all the different elements involved in actually getting and keeping a club going, writing applications for sporting bids, knowing what to put in the bids and what criteria you need to fill is something that can easily get passed over.

And that’s where AFD come in. Since they started the company in 2014, it has been our aim to grow the game and get more people participating. Initially AFD were focused just on the county of Kent, but first through our own coaching work they’ve expanded to six different counties and since then they’ve also been developing the Club Support Service to help you build in your area.

Ouse Valley Eagles is a club where AFD have worked in partnership to achieve both. At the end of 2015 the club approached AFD to help work with them on a satellite club project in Buckingham and it started the process of working to develop the club on and off the field.

As Mark Chilton, the Academy Co-ordinator for the OVE Programme says, AFD are ideal for working with in helping teams get projects off the ground.

“AFD are expert in identifying funding opportunities, through councils, unitary authorities and sports development partnerships and navigating the way through the approvals process. AFD can provide coaching support for after school sessions where we would struggle as volunteers to commit the time. Opportunity to play is key to youth participation and AFD is helping Ouse Valley Eagles to provide it.”

It’s not just community clubs that are looking for help and support and as part of enabling people to have more opportunities to play, last month we talked about the new padded programmes AFD are starting in schools. But it has been universities too that have benefited from the scheme.

The University of Bedfordshire was one of a number of universities across the country that didn’t have any provision for American Football. The university had players but none that could represent the university as the funds to start any programme were not something the Student Union could stretch to.

After a couple of introductory flag sessions, which showed the latent interest in the sport at the university, AFD worked with the team there to build a funding bid.

AFD work closely with any club, school or university to identify the funding need and work with you to ensure it meets criteria set down by Sport England. With the University of Bedfordshire, the need for the grant was to enable the sport to have a starting base at the campus and got the boost that they had been looking for for some time.

The Bedfordshire Bulls new equipment store, all made possible through their work with AFD

“Starting an American Football programme has been a focus for the University of Bedfordshire for a number of years but the costs of starting a team have held us back. With the support of AFD, building a grant application and sourcing equipment for us, we were able to move forward our plans considerably and can now offer the sport to our students. We would recommend other university teams to work with them.”

Says Kieran Nixon, Vice President of Sport, Bedfordshire University Student’s Union

The AFD team are looking to help more teams realise their dreams in 2018. Don’t think it can’t happen for you without discussing your prospects with AFD first, as there may be avenues you haven’t yet explored and working with AFD could open up opportunities you didn’t know existed!

The scheme isn’t just open to padded teams, we are also able to help and support flag teams if you’re looking to build your programme too.

For a no-obligation chat, contact the AFD team on 0203 056 2700 or email today at clubs@afdlimited.com and who knows, maybe that fairy godmother could have 10k for you too?




Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1