Birmingham Lions take flight to Finland

The Birmingham Lions women’s team continue to place themselves at the forefront of the British Women’s game – not only on the field, but beyond as well.

The undefeated five-time National Champions head to Finland this weekend for their first ever foray into 11-a-side international Women’s American football.

The Lions have led the way previously in being the only British women’s club to seek out international competition – they have played full field football in Europe twice before, though notably the 9-a-side version of the game. In 2015 the Lions faced the French side, Les Sparkles in Paris and most recently in January 2017 they tested themselves against eventual Finnish Maple League champions, the Helsinki Wolverines, in Helsinki. Most impressively, the travelling Lions won both games!

With a wealth of GB Lions talent, experienced in the 11-a-side format of the game, even though it’ll be the Birmingham’s first dive into 11-a-side competition, we wouldn’t count these kitties out!

The Lions shared more at BirminghamLions.co.uk:


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, via BirminghamLions.co.uk – original images © gw-images.com, Céline Bisson and MyLonelyTreeMedia photography.

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Nick

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