It’s been a very busy month for the team with rookie days and fundraisers galore, and now it’s time for September’s “Mention of the Month”: sponsored by Physis Ltd. This month’s mention really does a good job at showing the influence of both team effort and new team members, with the award given to rookie Zoë Wilder.
Zoë has had a few sessions with the team now, dabbling and running back and a few other positions. Her effort and determination at training is worthy enough, but the huge effort she put into the climb and fundraiser after only just joining is what has awarded her the mention.
In a special case we also award the “Mention of the Month” to the club’s first honorary Valkyrie; her daughter (not to forget their noble stead – Meg the dog!). In horrible conditions they both continued to the top, which was truly inspiring. Well done both!!
Two Valkyries had another early start as they traveled to Warwick University to attend an ‘Upgrade Your Catching Technique’ course run by the Head coach of the GB Women’s flag team, Andrew Gambrill.
The day started with introductions and a classroom session, reminding us all of the fundamentals of the catch and how one might catch on different routes. On the field we were introduced to a couple of finger strengthening and dexterity exercises, that most people will no doubt have practiced over the Bank holiday already! It wasn’t long into the Quiet Fingers catching practice that the session was unfortunately rained off and attendees sought shelter & lunch. Back out onto the field and rain, once again interrupted the Clock drill. Thankfully, the good people of Warwick Uni found a sports hall to continue the session.
All participants nailed the various drills including, over shoulder, wrong shoulder, overhead catches and easy ups under the watchful eye of Andrew, who provided great feedback. All participants had grown in confidence in their catching throughout the day that there were no qualms when it came to the dreaded one-handed catches! Each attendee caught the ball one-handed after sticking with the fundmentals they had been taught throughout the day. A final test of the ‘low ball’ competition (won by our Valkyrie – Ruth Lewis) which tested the longevity of your squat as well as your catching and reaction time and it was time to head back to Wales.
“I had a really great day – well worth the 5am alarm! It’s great to go back to basics every now and then and focus on one element of the game. If you can nail the catch and make it second nature then you can concentrate on other things – like how you might dupe the defence! Andrew broke the day & the techniques down in such a way that there was something for everyone. One attendee commented that she hadn’t realised before that you catch with your fingers, not your palms; while it was clear that others’ catching success and confidence were through the roof by the end of the day. I’ve already been practicing my finger strengthening exercises and can’t wait to put them into practice on the field!”
Exciting things have been happening for the Cardiff Valkyries the last few months – and things just keep getting better. We are proud to introduce our new incentive: The Valkyries Mention of the Month’ – sponsored by Physis Ltd.
The mention of the month covers a range of incentives which reflect the Valkyries’ core principles: Respect – Passion – Togetherness – Growth. It may be awarded to the Valkyrie who is has improved the most in training, or who works behind the scenes for a particular event, or even bringing the best attitude to games.
Drum roll, please…
It is our absolute pleasure to announce that the first ever Mention of the Month is awarded to Mandy. Mandy plays as center for the team (and has also dabbled at d-line might we add!) and also holds role as secretary in the Cardiff Valkyries. As well as her huge role in our push to gain FIRST PLACE in the Grid Iron Hub voting poll, she has worked tirelessly behind the scenes in the last month, working on our new constitution and policies as well as organising the Valkyries’ attendance at Pride.
Because of all of this effort, we think it’s only right that the award goes to her. Thank you very much Mandy!
Who will be our next ‘Mention of the Month’ we wonder?
And DON’T FORGET our next rookie day September 2nd, 10:30-1pm Roath Recreation ground! Get spreading the word
Since the team was established in 2016, we have worked tirelessly through self-funding to put ourselves through the British 5 aside flag football tournament, Opal series, closely followed by our debut in the 5 aside tackle tournament, Sapphire Series, in February 2017. Last year saw another big move, from the 5 aside to the 7 aside tournament of Sapphire Series 2018.
It really has been a hard but well deserved journey for the Valkyries, and we have worked so very hard over the last two years to find sponsorship to support our journey. We are finally honoured to announce our first ever sponsor –Physis Ltd. Company owner – Kirstyn Lobo – had this to say about this historical sponsorship:
“Physis has proved to be one of Europe’s top selling brands online specialising in quality nutritional supplements that facilitate the improvement of Health and Vitality.
Our Physis family consists of parents, part-time students, home-workers and globe trotters, and we are proud to offer flexible hours and an environment that emulates actually giving a damn!
It is with this caring and progressive management style that Physis have looked to find ways to uplift and encourage the local community – cue the Valkyries.
The Valkyries offer an inclusive environment where different shapes, sizes, skills and experience can come together to progress themselves and American Football, for women in Wales and beyond. It is for these reasons that the Physis team is extremely proud to align ourselves with a group that speak so closely to our hearts.”
– Kirstyn Lobo, Owner
As you can imagine, we are over the moon about this fantastic opportunity with Physis Ltd. The sponsorship will help towards coverage of essential funds for kit and upkeep of the club, and will make all those differences to develop the standard of team and the standard of play.
Thank you, Physis Ltd!
This years’ Diamond Series – a full 11 a-side series – was not one to forget, seeing a number of Valkyries play in the first ever newly formed Heartlands Shock. Over three training sessions and two game days they played their hearts out, and they had this to say about the team and their experiences;
Ruth: Wide Receiver #88
Diamond 2018 was phenominal, I relished every minute! It was so great to work with new coaches who had fantastic insights and who never stopped supporting us. Meeting with and playing with women from all over the UK, from all different divisions was a great experience. There are so many talented women in Britball I can’t wait to see them all again.
The highlight for me was my touchdown but I would say the best part of the whole series was meeting and working with amazing people. It surprised me how much different the 11a-side game was to the 7 aside – more people around you to take you out! A lot a of different challenges in both types of the game, but I hope to incorporate everything I’ve learned in 11s to 7s.
Lauren – Defensive Line
With this being my first time participating in the Diamond series, and only having competed in Sapphire twice as my only experience of playing American Football prior (both times playing 7-a-side), it’s understandable that I approached the event with some trepidation. My knowledge of the sport is still shaky at best (being that I don’t tend to watch sports, just play them), and having only just got 7-a-side football knowledge under my belt, jumping up to 11-a-side felt incredibly daunting.
Nevertheless, once I got stuck in and attending two of the three training sessions and the two game dates, I thoroughly loved every minute of it. This year was my debut to Defense in Sapphire, and I continued this as I went through to Diamond, registering as a defensive end. Diamond also introduced me to the world of Special Teams, which was an entirely foreign concept to me in itself. The learning curve felt steep at some times, but it doesn’t take long to see that a lot of players are in the same boat and that everyone—both coaches and players—are there with the primary goal of making sure that everyone is just basically having a good time.
Over the course of Diamond, I feel that I definitely improved as a player—but not just in improving the things I was currently doing, but also being able to identify the areas that could use further work, such as tackling and handwork. In saying that, the toughest part for me was definitely in the second full game of the second date whereby injuries meant I had to fill in for a few positions I’d never been coached in! But as nerve-wracking as that was, I knew no one would judge me as long as I tried my best, and I think it’s a privilege to be part of a team like that.
More than anything, I think Diamond was a fantastic opportunity to build on my current skill set, try something new and also—most importantly, in my opinion—to make friends and play the sport we all love.
Sheryl – Defensive Line #98
Development as a player: was able to focus on more d-line specific skills through Diamond than I have ever been able to which I’m hoping will help me up my game next sapphire with coaching and direction from people who play in a GB capacity or within their own 11 a side teams. 11 aside experience was good. Helped bring everything together and bring through the importance of all of the individual units working together to achieve a common goal. My goals next sapphire are just to be the best I can be in a d-line position
Zoe – Linebacker #58
Diamond Series was such an amazing experience. From the knowledge developed in training, to the full-on 11 aside games, to the new friends made, it was a series that I certainly won’t forget.
The opportunity to have access to such experienced and passionate coaches was a privilege I don’t take likely. They spent so much time with us, tweaking the smallest of details, but also making sure we were having fun all the way through. On a personal level I’ve learned more about football full-speed at 11s than I have before, as well as points to improve. I’m so excited to take all of this knowledge and hopefully develop further.
I do think, however, that one of the memories that will stick with me most is being chosen as one of the defensive captains. It was such an incredible honour–something I wouldn’t even think was a possibility as I signed up to the series – and although we didn’t take away the win everyone should be incredibly proud of themselves and what they’ve achieved. Everyone came together and continued to work, work, work, making history as the first Heartlands Shock team.
Women’s football in the UK is growing and developing at an amazing rate, and I think Diamond Series is a testament to that. Let’s see what next year bring for the Heartlands Shock! #ShockItToEm
Sarah – Offensive Line #59
So only taking up American football at the beginning of this year due to a rookie day with cardiff Valkyries I found myself this year signing up for Diamond, my first time at 11 a side! Attending Training was nerve wracking and finding myself on the Offensive line with some amazing ladies and some GB players who towered above me, definitely made me feel worried at my American football knowledge. Training was really structured and throughly enjoyed the team moral that was building between all the players, getting stronger with each session. I did struggle at first with getting my head around new play calls but with the experience on the line and the guidance of the O Line coach Ross, I soon got my head around them and practice did make perfect! The games were another level and loved seeing be enthusiasm of the teams, the coaches and each player. We were graced with beautiful weather and even though the distance to travel to the games was a killer, we gave it our all!! I loved the experience of diamond and the skills I’ve learnt I cannot wait for sapphire to start up to show my development. I would encourage anyone that’s never done diamond to try it just once!! I’ve made friends for life and cannot thank the Heartland Shock team bringing us together!
Claire – Offensive Line #79
Diamond was awesome! An incredible opportunity to learn so much about a specific position. I was so lucky to get such an amazing team of incredible ladies on the O line. I actually really miss them now it’s over. I really miss football too. Can’t believe I’ve got to wait till November now
Elleanor – Defensive Back #24
Speaking on behalf of Elleanor, there are two words to describe her awesome sauce performance during Diamond Series…Interception City!
Simon – Receiver coach #1 <3
Being able to coach in the Diamond Series for the newly formed Heartland Shock was an honour and a privilege. That a new team needed to be created to cater for the demand says a lot about how far the sport has come in just a short space of time.
While I couldn’t attend every event, those that I did were amazing experiences. The sheer energy and ethusiam shown by everyone was immense. For almost every player, they had never experienced 11-a-side before so were truly breaking new personal grounds. For others, it was their first taste of football at all. Everyone gave absolutely everything into the sessions and games, but more importantly did it with a smile.
It is this aspect that I will take away most from the series. No matter what was happening. No matter what the situation. No matter how hot it was. Everyone was always smiling. Everyone was always enjoying themselves.
It was great to see a number of Valkyries attending the series. Putting yourself in these unfamiliar situations is not an easy thing to do. However, they all took to it completely naturally and played brilliantly. Whether it was Elleanor making interceptions, Zoe getting hits in the backfield, Lauren and Sheryl putting pressure on the QB, Ruth getting big catches, or Sarah and Claire doing all the unseen work on the Oline, each made their impact to a team full of some of the best talent in the country. They certainly caught the eyes of other coaches and (hopefully!) GB scouts as well. I couldn’t be prouder of their efforts.
As many of you know, the Great British Lions held their flag football trials on Saturday! 🏈 The event saw women from all over the UK attend to develop and try for a spot on the two GB teams, the GB Gold Lions and the GB Silver Lions.
It’s with our great pleasure to announce another Cardiff Valkyrie has made it onto the GB squad, receiver/corner Ruth Lewis! Ruth had this to say about the day and her selection:
“The day was fantastic. The level of talent on display was awe-inspiring. We were mid-game and I just had to stop so I could watch players take on the whole defense and score completely untouched. With skill like that on display I was so surprised to be selected. I can see that I have a lot to learn and I can’t wait to get started! The coaches were so helpful and in the short time I spent with them I already had so much to take away. I hope I can step up to the plate and encourage more women, especially in Wales, to step into the sport.”
Ruth is the second Valkyrie to be selected into a GB squad, the first being Emma Underwood last year. Unfortunately Emma was unable to trial this year, but she still attended the event:
“I really enjoyed being there and seeing all the new trialists and helping out with drills. It felt really odd being on the other side of it but circumstances involving an injury meant I could not trial. Although it was frustrating not being able to partake I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a lot of new talent this year. More and more talent are just appearing from nowhere and it’s fantastic to see.”
There is no doubt that things are progressing for both forms of football in the UK! Cardiff Valkyries’ head coach, Simon Browning, was invited to assist on the trials, and as he reviews the day it’s clear just how high the sport and standard is growing:
“The standard was very high. Many of the coaches remarked on how the base level of the players was higher this year than last. This led to a really competitive day where coaches and players alike continuously pushed each other.
The day was organised around different drills in the morning followed by game scrimmages in the afternoon. In these players took the lead in creating their own playbooks with coaches there to help rather than lead.
It was extremely positive to see how women from all over the country were able to come together at short notice and perform as a unit with such effectiveness.
The ability to read what was going on and adapt their play accordingly was extremely evident and made for tough decisions at the end!”
We hope to see the continuing development of the women’s games, and eventually to see more and more Valkyries’ take on the standard as GB players!
A big well done to all of the other successful players on the roster! We can’t wait to see how the year unfolds for you all. To see comments from the Head coach of the GB Lions, Andrew Gambrill, and the full list of the roster here>> http://dblcoverage.com/bafa-national-teams-announce-gb-lions-womens-flag-roster/
It was an incredible night on Saturday at our end of year awards ceremony! Here is a review from our coaches of our MVP winners for Sapphire Series 2018…
One of the reasons why this club is going strength to strength is because a lot of people are doing a lot of different things. We were developing really quickly, throwing a lot of stuff at the team this year. We had injuries, different absences, and we were being forced to especially on offense to go into games with one recognisable receiver, as well as no running back. It’s not what you usually go into a game with.
But overall, the fact that the team were able to respond the way that they did, putting new things in, trying things out (and often at the drop of a hat), for us it makes it that much easier – so the whole team should all be proud of themselves of what they’ve done this year, and we’ve really set the foundation now to go on next year.
On to the the awards…
Coaches’ Player – Zoe John
This is a new award for this year. The coaches player is not about the best player, it’s about the intangibles that go around being part of the team, and there was quite a debate as to who should get this. As a coaching staff we were seeing all these different things by players, and at one point there was a five way race. Then down to three…
One player in particular was said to be one if not the most coachable players on the team, and for one of the coaches, one of the most coachable players that he’d been around in football over the course of this playing and coaching careers. That was Holly – always learning, carrying on. This was was definitely recognised by the coaching staff.
The other person in the final three was someone who kept going, kept trying, kept working with everything. She kept wanting to know more “what am I doing?”, “how can I get better?”, “what can I improve?”. We’ve asked her to play different roles within the team as well, and she responded really, really well to that and put on some really great performances. That player was Mandy.
The final person and the winner of the overall coaches player is again someone who throws herself completely into the squad. She’s in and around everything, and a lot of the feedback that we get via different routes is that she’s always helping people, always trying to make other people around her better. The winner of the coaches’ player is Zoe.
Offensive MVP – Maria Mercedes May
There’s been a lot great individual performances this year on offense. We went in wanting to do a particular thing which we were then unable to do, and we were effectively adjusting on the fly. Which, again, is never an easy thing to do. Getting Kira to run the offense in training and even in a game isn’t easy, and one of the things we want to say again is we’re trying to give players the knowledge so that they can respond. We had a lot of players on the offense doing this and really stepping up, and also giving a solid performance so that we could continue to compete.
But the winner of the offensive MVP, not just in respect of the film but in the feedback as well from different players and things we hear throughout the year as well, is a particular player who not only gives a solid level performance every single time that’s of a high level, she’s also helping other people. Always trying to get the best of people that’s around her. And that’s one of the reasons really why she’s getting this award – so the overall offensive MVP is Maria. (Maria was unable to make the award ceremony, but Simon did a smashing job at posing…)
Lineman MVP – Jamillah Robinson-Heather
Another new award for the year, again, we had a lot of good performances on the line on both sides of the ball. It is an area in which we feel quite confident in, and we threw a lot of stuff at the line with a lot of different blocking schemes, really trying to put a lot of stuff. Both sides of the ball we really started to get there, which will be another major strength in the Valkyries going forwards. But, the person who’s won line MVP has had quite a dominant season. Right from the start she was noted by other people from other teams, and we were getting people coming to the coaches, and making comments about this player. This was the case right back from Topaz all the way through into Sapphire Series. The winner of the line award is Jam.
Defensive MVP – Lauren Oldacre
We were really, really proud of our defense this year. I think we went in with a really strong unit, and unfortunately we had injuries and we had to adjust, and it’s never an easy thing to start with a completely new set – especially with no practice. We think every player stepped up and gave us the option to compete like that. It was a really hard choice to actually do the MVP, though there’s a couple of players we’re going to mention who we were very impressed with.
For instance, Mandy. We think she had great defensive season. We asked her to play in two roles that’s she’s never trained in, and she showed a lot of skill and a lot of determination, and she made me really proud of having such a determined player who just picked it up and ran with it. Another person was Sarah who had hardly any training sessions and none on the defense and all she had to go on for this position was a classroom session. We think she did a wonderful job.
The defensive player that we’ve chosen we also ask quite a lot of. We’ve asked her to play more than one role, and she shows a lot of determination and aggression in her play. It was such a pleasure to watch her, she was getting better with each game, her tackles were getting more aggressive, better at reading the opposition, and knowing where the play is going to. So it’s our pleasure to give the defensive award to Lauren.
Overall MVP – Ruth Lewis
Although our overall MVP is nominated early for the the nomination of Sapphire Series MVP, it’s important to acknowledge the reasoning for the nomination. This is someone that gives everything in every single play. When you’ve got opposition defences screaming out where she is on the field and rotating their entire defense to the side of the field to where she is standing, you know that she is a key player. You know that she’s given oppositions a hard time, and to still score the touchdowns that she is scoring with the entire defense watching her says a lot about that. Also then coming across to defense and having to pick up more and more on defense as well, and towards the end pretty much involved in all the tackles at one point – again, throwing herself into a new role and giving everything at that. The tackles, the chases the pursuits – and it’s not easy playing both ways as corner and receiver. So overall MVP is Ruth.
Valkyries’ Valkyrie – Zoe John
For the coaches this is the most important award where most are concerned, because this is the one where we ask who the players believe epitomizes what it means to be a Valkyrie. And what was great was that there was eight people who were nominated for this, and it was almost a four way tie. Looking at some of the comments there was a general theme, and what’s great is that the general theme is about how supportive everyone is. It’s one of the those important things to our culture as a club that we are seen as that family type atmosphere, so this was brilliant. So just picking out a few comments, there’s a couple for Sheryl ‘Shed’ “for being a good shed”, as well as for her leadership as Defensive Captain. Maria, again, for bringing in the new players onto the line and helping them. Holly with some votes, for helping players and being very supportive behind the scenes, Kira for “keeping everything upbeat and taking everything in her stride”, Jam for keeping things up and asking question being involved, and an overall “good egg”. Lois as well for her knowledge, still coming to games and training even though she has one leg, still on the side-lines, being involved. Ruth as well, helping others and and calming nerves. It really is so positive to hear everyone’s comments.
The person who has won the award this year has received comments alongside others around the help she gives, but also in that the soul of the team. She takes on all of the challenges that she’s faced, and she’s there for teammates who are injured. A good all-round teammate and she does so much for the team, too. The Valkyries’ Valkyrie this year is Zoe.
The Flump award : Lois and Jam
Let’s not forget an additional new award for Sapphire Series 2018, the ‘Flump’ award. The ‘Flump’ award is given at the end of each game to the person who made the biggest ‘flump’. The overall Flump award this year was a difficult decision…but it was decided to be a joint winning between Lois for tearing her ACL in the first first (and not even bothering to run for a touchdown may we add…) and Jam, for tearing her achilles without realising, and returning to play in Sapphire Round 4 and practically obliterated it. **Also need to point out how two players can swear a leg brace and a big heckin’ leg boot and still make it look super fly…**
Well done to all of the team for what they have accomplished this year. Going up to 7s in just our second year of tackle was a big leap, and we couldn’t be more proud of you!
With many thanks to O’Neill’s St. Mary Street Cardiff for hosting our event and putting on a fantastic spread!
The season feels like it’s over far too soon! It’s been an amazing journey for the Cardiff Valkyries, and the final round of Sapphire certainly went out with a bang…
Cardiff Valkyries V Chester Romans
First game of the day was against Chester Romans. We knew it was going to be a give-all game. We showed out ability to potentially take the game, and we felt ready.
With some great long threat passes by Ruth ‘The Gazelle’ Lewis as well as Elleanor ‘The Fist’ O’connell we were able to move the ball yards from the end zone. Line-backer turned running back for the last two games, Zoe ‘Noo Noo’ John scored the first touchdown of the game. Receiving the snap and with the train of offensive lineman, Zoe was able to rush into the end zone, and repeated again for the extra point. This was no easy fight however, pushing through the Roman’s defense who proving to be a chaotic force throughout the game.
We were on a high, and the game continued as our last meeting with Chester with their offense scoring soon after. But with the energy going from the first touch down the offense maintained the positive ‘force’ with Kira ‘QB1 Kenobi’ Walker, who scored another touchdown with 20/30 yard run into the end zone. More long throws and catches from receivers Ruth and Elleanor gave chance to score again. However, with an unfortunate fumble a yard away from the end zone we turned over the board.
The Valkyries’ defense put out some hard hits for Chester, with some great all-out efforts a well in both games from O-line turned D-line players, with Sarah Griffiths at nose tackle and Mandy as defensive end. However Chester’s strong run game and talents proved to find the spaces on the field, scoring up the points.
Cardiff Valkyries 13 – Chester Romans 32
Cardiff Valkyries V Teeside Steelers
Our first time playing Teeside Steelers this season we weren’t sure what to expect. From 5 aside we remember a tough team who were threatening on both sides of the ball. But we were excited, and with the snow calming down we were looking forward to a bit of a warmer game!
On the offense, center Maria May continued some great snaps under pressure and in appalling conditions, and with the run we were able to move the ball more than the last game with some hard hitting yards by Zoe, but not enough to get through first down. Teeside’s defense certainly proved to be on point, and Ruth being Sapphire nominated MVP she was well covered. Teeside’s defense also patted down some potentially long haul throws, and despite some brilliant catches by both Elleanor and Ruth, and runs by Kira, we just couldn’t reach the yards needed to score. A confusion over a legitimate fumble led to Teeside’s first score while on defense, and an interception made my Teeside rooked up for another touchdown.
The Valkyries defense did well to stop out some touchdowns for Teeside, also introducing a 5 line defense from line-backers Holly Dame and Ceri Yeoman who stepped up to the task. A pat down from Ruth saved another potential touchdown for Teeside, and sending pressure onto their line reduce some potentially dangerous runs.
Cardiff Valkyries 0 – Teeside Steelers 24
Final Round MVPs
There is no doubt that each and every Valkyrie put in a hard effort in this final round. With most playing both sides of the ball, and weather conditions seemingly similar to an episode of Game of Thrones at The Wall, it was a very long day! However, there are two stand-out performances given these conditions…
Offensive MVP = Maria May
It was a horrible day to play centre. Wind and snow made things extremely difficult but every snap was on the money allowing the rest of the offence to function. Also had a solid day blocking
Defensive = Ruth Lewis
Both Chester and Teesside had known strike threats at WR but Ruth shut them both down through the games making them a non-factor. Ruth also had a couple of covering tackles and strong hustle.
Well done MVPs! 👏❤
As a team we have everything to be proud of. When you have comments made by other teams about their enjoyment of our progress, our passion, and developing skills, you can’t really ask for more. We have shown through the course of this year’s Sapphire Series that we have the potential to cause trouble. Only our second year in existence we are growing, and through the course of this year there is going to be so much more to learn and give.
Thank you all to the teams we have played against for some really smashing games! Bring on Sapphire 2019!
We hope to have Valkyries represent at the GB flag trials as well as Diamond series, so our football adventures are still certianly ongoing! Watch this space!