The top 16 contact youth teams in Britain are set to gather at Sheffield Hallam Sports Park this Saturday for the u17 Britbowl national plate and championship finals sponsored by Football America.
The event starts with the Plate finals in the morning, featuring six second place finishers from the seven u17 youth contact conferences, as well as the two third place finishers with the best records.
Kicking off at 10.30am, all teams will play three rounds of fixtures, starting with the highest seeds playing the lowest in a quarter-final, then a winners vs winners semi-final round and ranking rounds for the knocked-out teams. The event culminates in a final game between the two undefeated teams at 2.45pm. The first games and seedings are set as follows:
#9 North East Academy v #16 Black Country Vipers
#10 Kent Exiles Outlaws v #15 Solent Academy Seahawks
#11 Burnley Tornadoes v #14 Tamworth Phoenix
#12 Highland Wildcats v #13 London Blitz
Last year’s Plate winners, the Highland Wildcats, are ready to defend their title. Head Coach Robbie Paulin says: “Throughout our preparations, we've made sure that all our players and staff take nothing for granted – we know we'll need to push things if we want to retain the title. Coming from one of the smallest population bases in the UK and playing London in the first round could be intimidating but we feel our guys are ready for the challenge. One advantage we’ve had in preparing for the Plate is having one of the best youth teams in the country in our conference - defending national champions the East Kilbride Pirates. Tournament after tournament we got to face them and having a challenge like that helps us to improve!"
The u17 Britbowl championship event gets underway at 3pm, following the same knock out structure as the earlier Plate final. The teams competing include all seven u17 youth contact conference champions, as well as one second place team with the best record in the national standings. The championship final takes place at 7.15pm. The first games and seedings are set as follows:
#1 Kent Exiles Rebels v #8 Buckinghamshire Wolves
#2 East Kilbride Pirates v #7 Leeds Academy Assassins
#3 East Kent Mavericks v #6 Manchester Titans South
#4 Birmingham Lions v #5 Cobham Cougars Blue
Reigning national champions and #2 seed for the championships, The East Kilbride Pirates, are not complacent despite an unbeaten season. “We know there are no easy games at Britbowl,” says Pirates offensive coordinator Matt Cooper. “We’ve got a great bunch of players – everyone in the squad has contributed at some point during season, whether it’s a touchdown, a great grab in traffic, a first down run or a last-ditch tackle. We’ll treat each match-up as we see it, and hopefully that will result in us playing in the final game of the day.”
BAFA Chairman Martin Cockerill is looking forward to the event. "The culmination of the season is set to be very exciting. I am sure we will see some great football and I would like to pay tribute to all those people who have supported their teams in reaching this stage of the season."
Will all the silverware head north of the border again with the Scots retaining their crowns? Will number one seeds North East Academy and Kent Exiles Rebels dominate instead? Or will someone cause an upset?
Look out for updates on the winners on the British American Football Association’s Facebook page on Saturday.