Manchester has always been a sports mad town, but could it be a new home for American Football?
That’s what the NHL foundation and Sports England are hoping, as they are pouring money from grants into Greater Manchester to help grow the sport.
As part of the Sport England partnership, the NFL Foundation UK will be working with Greater Manchester community groups for at least the next two years, supporting them to provide NFL Flag Football programmes, training, and equipment to help young people aged 12-20 access positive pathways and develop the skills, confidence, and self-belief to create their own future, impact society and reach their potential.
So if you’re interested in the sport, this could be a fantastic time to try and get into playing it.
Using the power of sport to reach communities, NFL Flag has been proven to be a strong engagement tool with diverse and underserved groups, in particular with young people.
It is a high-octane, non-contact version of American football, where tackles are made by pulling off flags which all players wear on their hips rather than the full contact version you’re probably familiar with.
The program currently works with eight community groups across 13 London boroughs, delivering youth football to engage over 2500 young people in the capital, 58% of which are female and 75% who are from a diverse ethnic background, helping underrepresented young people have equal access to opportunities.
They are hoping this success will be replicated over Greater Manchester.
NFL Flag is one of the fastest growing sports globally, empowering youth athletes around the world and instilling a lifelong passion for flag football.
The non-contact format is fun, exciting, fast and accessible for all, with women and girls driving some of the fastest growth. Flag football is currently played by more than 20 million people in more than 100 countries, by all ages and genders.
It provides a structured opportunity for young people (boys and girls) to play the game whilst discovering the importance of sportsmanship, teamwork and friendship both on and off the field.
The NFL Foundation UK launched in 2021 as part of the NFL’s international charitable endeavours and in partnership with the Mayor of London’s ‘Sport Unites’ fund that saw the duo commit a combined £1 million to the deliver NFL Foundation UK’s work in the capital.
Henry Hodgson, General Manager NFL UK, said: “We are delighted to partner with Sport England and expand the NFL Foundation UK’s reach into communities in Greater Manchester as part of our commitment to helping to address inequality in society through the power of sport, education and opportunity.
“It has always been our ambition to expand the NFL Foundation UK beyond London and engage more young people, and we are looking forward to working with local community organizations to co-create programs that will support local needs. We know how powerful NFL Flag is in connecting with underrepresented groups to help young people get active, and we are excited about the potential to further impact the lives of youngsters in the UK.”
Phil Smith, Executive Director of Partnerships at Sport England, said: “Today’s announcement is an exciting one which is centred around a shared ambition to help more under-represented young people, in more cities, engage with the growing sport of NFL Flag.”
“In working with local community groups in Manchester and by providing a blend of opportunity, equipment and training, we believe this unique partnership can be transformational in helping more young people find a love for sport, while building social connections.”
The NFL Foundation UK has today opened a new application process for charities across in Greater Manchester as the programme expands. To register your interest and apply for funding please visit here.
For more information, head to the NFL Foundation UK website