Last Saturday saw a very busy day for the Valkyries, which meant a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For everyone there was probably some nerves and excitement. For the women attending the flag taster day event, there was the matter of having a go at a new sport and meeting a large group of loud Valkyries (anyone who plays us will know of our volume levels!). For the existing Valkyries, it was wondering who would turn up, would they enjoy it and would they come back? We have yet to see for that final point, but what was clear was that everyone did indeed enjoy themselves and had a good laugh.
So the time is nearly upon us where the Valkyries welcome some new rookies to join the team and try out flag football. Ay taster day is an incredibly exciting day for the team, hoping to expand and hoping to introduce a fun new sport to the women who attend. Now understandably, not a lot of people know of flag football, and even more understandably, some of you might be nervous! We know each of us sure were on our own venture to the first taster session or training session, and so we thought we would take this opportunity to write a blog about our feelings in the past, present, and future of the team, and also go through the idea of flag football in general. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to know the rules, routes, or even have an idea of American Football. Just turn up and have a go!
What is Flag Football? I haven’t watched it before, and don’t know any of the positions or rules!
Sapphire Round 4 was the final round of the tournament and the Valkyries were drawn against two very tough teams to close out the season. First up was the divisional leaders, Teesside, followed by the hard hitting Sandwell.
Having played both of these teams in rounds one and two, the team knew to expect high intensity and physically demanding games – and they were not wrong.
So that is the end of Sapphire 2017. It went by so fast – too fast. Way too fast.
Looking back at the four rounds, they have to be some of my most enjoyable coaching moments. The amount of energy and enthusiasm on the sidelines is infectious. Everyone is completely into the game. Always looking to the next play, how they can get better, how they can succeed. There is never a negative moment. They never have their heads down – it is always looking forward and that just makes them so much fun to coach.
There have been some great moments through the tournament…
Saturday 1st April saw almost a 100 women from all over the UK travel to Northampton to take part in the open trials for the GB women’s flag team, as they look to continue their preparations for the forthcoming European championships later this year. The trial was aimed at adding successful players to the existing GB squad ready for training camps over the summer, after which the final team will be announced.
What to say about Round 2 of our first Sapphire Series?!
Though we had a fun warm-up to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off” (courtesy of Chester Romans we believe), we knew before we even started the games that these two teams would be tough. We have seen these women in action; they hit and run with a lot of power, and have the experience that we just don’t have. Unfortunately we lost to both teams, but nevertheless we scored in both games and continued our streak of scoring in every single game, and learned some new things along the way. With their experience level in mind, scoring against them is certainly a massive achievement in itself.
For those of you who don’t know, it’s International Women’s Day! We want to say thank you to all the women in our lives who support us and mould us (from our younger years to our continuing ones!), and especially to all the women who have broken boundaries in sport. The expectations and abilities of women and girls – what they can do, what they have a right to do – are constantly challenged as reshaped, and here we are as Wales’s first and only American Football team, part of the strong and growing network of women footballers (both amateur and professional) who show every single time we go onto that pitch that we CAN and we WILL play. As a team we like to think that we are a strong resource of support and encouragement for other women who join us, regardless of their skill and background, and challenging negative thoughts about what we can achieve and replacing them with a new and positive sense of empowerment.
Nerves and excitement were definitely present with the Valkyries even days before the opening of Sapphire Series took place. Had we trained enough? Do we know enough? Especially for the rookies who had only 6 hours of training, there were questions as to how the day was going to go. And it turns out, we did brilliantly! We had far surpassed the expectations that we held against ourselves in both games; Winning our first game against another newly formed team Staffordshire Surge, and holding back an experienced team in the league, Sandwell Steelers, from overwhelming us on the scoring board. One win, one loss, but a hell of a lot of experience to take into the next round.