British American Football League back in action

On June 27, British American football kicked off for the first time since September 2019.

Twenty-one months ago, the London Warriors won their sixth National Championship in just seven years showing that they are undoubtedly the powerhouse of American football in Great Britain.

However, as COVID-19 swept through Europe, British football was sidelined. Although restrictions were lifted in the country during August 2020, the governing body, the British American Football Association (BAFA), decided it was not safe to play, leaving all would-be Brit-ballers watching countries like Finland and Austria get a sprinkling of the sport.

Fast-forward to the beginning of 2021 and it appeared as if there was a road back to football in the UK. With a slight change, however. BAFA implemented a small regional system that was no longer split into divisions – bar London. Fourteen regions were outlined by the league with four to six teams in each, depending on how many teams, regardless of division, were in those catchment areas pre-COVID. The only exception was, and is, London as the league felt it would be unfair to force lower division teams to play the Warriors who were regularly beating Premiership (top division) teams by lopsided scores.

Although restrictions in England have been completely lifted, they remain throughout the rest of the UK and the league has therefore seen it appropriate to have no Brit Bowl this year and instead simply crown regional champions based on wins and losses.

Tamworth Phoenix RB Deji Alli #25 heading upfield against the Sandwell Steelers Photo: Photophoenix

Key matchups 

The London Warriors (London) played their first game this weekend against the Kent Exiles after their first was canceled due to an outbreak in the coaching staff of their opponents, the London Olympians. Kent, on the other hand, were well into their season after losing to the London Blitz twice in consecutive matchups in tight games. The Warriors were sloppy in this game and made plenty of mistakes but their potential was evident as the team won 49 – 0.

The Tamworth Phoenix (Mercia) – regulars in the Brit Bowl – managed to sneak a 12 – 7 win over the Leicester Falcons in their first contest and obliterated the Sandwell Steelers 61 – 0 yesterday.

A Cambridgeshire Cats (East Anglia) side, who have in previous years taken advantage of the nearby American Airbase, remain undefeated having beaten the Norwich Devils 28-20, and the Colchester Gladiators 21-0.  The Manchester Titans (Red Rose), who lost to the Warriors in the 2019 Premiership semifinal, have also impressed with two wins and no losses. The Titans whipped the Merseyside Nighthawks 42-10 and annihilated the Lancashire Wolverines 83-0.

Scotland, which features such teams as the East Kilbride Pirates (Caledonia), will not see any action until August as the country slowly comes out of social restrictions which have been much stricter than in the rest of the UK.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.