With all the controversy, gloom and negative stories currently doing the rounds in British american football, we thought we’d see if we could search out a chink of light somewhere in the dark. Ladies football might not have seemed the obvious place to look given this year’s claims and counter-claims, but venturing into the world of ladies’ flag football one feelgood story caught our eye.
Hidden away up in the north west of England, far away from the traditional strongholds of flag football in Scotland, the midlands and down in the capital, one small group of players are forging a reputation for playing good football, and they are doing it from a somewhat unusual background.
The ladies flag football team of the Chorley Buccaneers American Football Club, the Bucs Ladies, are currently raising a few eyebrows in the North Conference of this year’s Opal Series. Not completely unexpected you might say, until you dig a little deeper…
The Bucs Ladies currently have a squad of 11 players, 8 of them are working mums, the squad has an average age close to 40, and not a single one of them had any football background at all before they joined the team. Indeed, some of them were 20 years removed from any sporting activity at all before they pulled on a belt and flags with the Buccaneers. In two short years they have progressed from a group of parents who wanted to understand a little bit more about the game that their children played for the Bucs youth teams, into a squad of well drilled, disciplined footballers with great core skills.
They train twice a week at the Bucs’ Parklands home facility, and put in a similar number of hours on playbook study. At tournaments, their opponents are often close to half their age, with sporting backgrounds, a big speed advantage, and often with GB international credentials, so for the Bucs Ladies to remain in any way competitive they have to make sure they do the fundamentals of route running, tackling, ball handling and pass coverage better than their opponents.
Led by players such as Louise Moran, who is catching the eyes of GB scouts at every tournament with highlight reel plays on both sides of the ball, and Jen Collier, who is leading the offense from QB with a calmness and poise that is rare to see, the team is probably over-achieving when you consider its individual pieces, proving what a tight-knit group they are. They play great defense up front, have a talented group of safeties in the secondary, and utilise clever, ball control, clock control offensive tactics.
So far, things are going well for the squad, they sit at .500 on the season and are in with a shout of a top 8 national ranking at the end of the season. They have been defeated but not embarrassed by a couple of the country’s top outfits in the East Kilbride Pirates and the Sheffield Giants, but they have offset those with wins over teams from the universities of Nottingham and Sheffield Hallam. A tie against last season’s national runners up, the Sheffield Hallam Warriors, has the Bucs sat at 3-3-1 and in a top 4 berth in the Opal North Conference heading into this weekend’s final sets of games. Of course, there will still be tough games ahead, and the team can’t afford to slip even 1% if they want to stay as competitive as they have been so far. Still, in terms of your classic ‘underdog comes good’ story, and as a shining example of what can be achieved when you really throw your heart and soul into a challenge, the 2017 Bucs Ladies really do stand out.
So, if you’re reading this in your 40’s, at home with a beer and some nachos, why not put them down? You have no excuse not to dust off your cleats and get back out there!