Orlando Bound: UK Flag Football Primary School Champions Train With Phoebe Schecter Ahead Of Pro Bowl Trip
By Simon Carroll
Ahead of a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Orlando to represent the UK in the 2024 NFL Flag International Championships, the students at Lings Primary School were treated to a farewell coaching clinic by Britain’s first female coach in the NFL, Phoebe Schecter.
Tomorrow is a big day for one small primary school in Northampton.
Seven months ago, Lings were crowned the 2023 NFL UK Flag Football National Primary School Champions at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The prize? A trip to Orlando to represent Team UK against the top youth NFL Flag teams from around the world at this year’s Pro Bowl. 12 teams from 12 countries descend on Florida, gatecrashing the NFL’s end of season festivities, showcasing the growth of flag football across the globe – and how the sport at a grassroots level is taking off.
If heading across the Atlantic wasn’t a big enough prize, the school received a surprise visit from somebody who is all too familiar with this particular code of football. Prior to coaching with the Buffalo Bills and being a pundit on Sky Sports, Phoebe Schecter once captained the Great Britain flag football team – and she was on hand to offer her expertise to the team in one of their final training sessions before they jet off for what is sure to be a once in a lifetime experience.
Speaking at the event, Schecter was excited to help the team ahead of their big trip:
“Lings’ involvement at the Pro Bowl is a great example of the opportunities NFL UK is creating at grassroots in the UK. I had so much fun on the field; the passion and enthusiasm the kids have for the sport is infectious. I am looking forward to watching them play out in Orlando; it will be an incredible experience for them all, and I know they will make the UK proud.”
Dr Chris Long, NFL UK Head of Community and Grassroots Development, was delighted to see the impact that Lings’ success has had on the sport in this country:
“Lings Primary School are a fantastic example of NFL Flag’s positive impact in schools across the country. It’s a diverse sport that allows boys and girls from all backgrounds to participate and have fun together. Congratulations again to everyone involved in the NFL Flag programme here at Lings Primary School, and I hope their story can inspire other schools to follow in their footsteps.”
Flag Football - A Growing Phenomenon
As NFL fever continues to grow and grip sports loving fans this side of the pond, so do the opportunities for people of all ages to participate in it. One of the most popular introductions to the game is flag football, a non-contact, inclusive and accessible format of American football and the cornerstone of the NFL’s grassroots participation plans in the UK. Since the birth of the NFL Flag programme in 2017, it has quickly become one of the fastest-growing sports in the UK.
Lings Primary School is one of 500 schools in the UK currently participating in Flag football, with 30,000 players in 26 regions nationwide. Both boys and girls play the game together – with 53% of participants being female – providing a fully inclusive experience.
Lings have benefited from the NFL providing free Flag football training and equipment to all primary and secondary schools who wish to take part. To find out more about the NFL Flag programme in the UK and how to get involved, please visit https://ww.nfl.com/uk/nfl-flag.
PREVIOUSLY THE FOUNDER OF NFL DRAFT UK, SIMON HAS BEEN COVERING COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND THE NFL DRAFT SINCE 2009. BASED IN MANCHESTER, SIMON IS ALSO CO-CREATOR & WEEKLY GUEST OF THE COLLAPSING POCKET PODCAST.