This Saturday the Great Britain ladies team take on Finland in their debut at the IFAF Women’s World Championships in Langley, Canada. This might be the first time the Lions play at the World’s but this isn’t the first time the team face off against the tough Finnish side…
The GB team played Finland back in 2015 in the final at the European championships suffering a 50-12 defeat. This resulted in the Lions coming away with the silver medal. All things considered that’s pretty top dollar for a first time competitive international outing!
In the 2015 matchup, the GB team started strong. The defence forced Finland to go four and out after their ballsy attempt to pass on fourth down. This excellent field position resulted in a field goal and the Lions being the first to put points on the board.
After a somewhat slow start Finland seemed to wake up. On their second drive they completed a beautiful 50 yard pass followed by a cheeky QB-keep play for a TD. Finland continued to maintain the upper hand from that point forward.
It was a relatively close game in the first half but the Finnish side adjusted incredibly well, improving with every drive. They came into the fourth quarter leading 26-12 and proceeded to put three unanswered touchdowns on the board to end the game 50-12.
All being said the GB team put on a great performance considering their experience level at the time. Coming away with the silver in their first ever European tournament has garnered the Lions respect in the international football world.
The Lions may be the less experienced side but the GB team and women’s tackle football in general in Britain has grown at a phenomenal rate. Since the inception of competitive leagues in 2013 the amount of teams competing across the nation has tripled in four years. This massive influx of players has been a major catalyst to the further development of the national team adding new talent to the mix.
Whilst the Lions are newbies to the world stage, Finland have competed at every world championship to date with two bronze medals already in the bank. After narrowly missing out on a place in the finals in 2013 after Canada made a miraculous comeback in the second half, they are hungry for more.
We spoke to Finland’s Head Coach Mika Eloranta who explained:
“We are really excited to have a re-match against GB because both teams were clearly the two best and well-prepared teams in Granada 2015. We are expecting a tough game because we know that football in GB has grown and developed after the WEC2015 tournament.”
Despite this game being a rematch of the European finals, Finland may not be such a familiar opponent. After all a lot can change in two years! In particular the Finnish team have completely revamped their offensive scheme since the last meet. One to watch will be running back veteran Jenni Lindén. The Lions defence may have trouble containing this one… but we’re sure LB Phoebe Schecter will be on the case!
Finland have also been making use of game film from the GB vs Spain friendly in late 2016 to help prepare the team. Notably the Finnish coaching staff have identified GB running back Ruth Matta as a force to be reckoned with, claiming she is a player the team must stop on Saturday.
Finland have made it abundantly clear they are coming for the W. The GB ladies have a mammoth task on their hands if they want to snatch this one from the reigning European champions. We wish them all the best for the game!
If the Lions win against Finland they will face host team Canada. If they lose they will have an even more onerous battle against two time gold medallist the USA… It’s evident the Lions schedule is no picnic having to face at least two of the top three seeds, but the experience they will gain will be invaluable to the further development of the team.
Regardless of the result we want to reiterate the message from Finland’s HC Mika:
“We would like to offer a good and enjoyable football game to all spectators and show that European teams play top quality football.”
This is a goal we can all get on board with! Good luck to all those involved and tune in to the live stream provided by host team Canada on Saturday 24th June 7:30pm BST!