British American Football – It’s Not Just About the NFL

It is undoubtedly one of the biggest sporting events in the world, with over 100 million people watching the Super Bowl in the United States of America alone. The NFL, despite being a domestic league, enjoys a global reach that the majority of other sports could only dream of…but there is more than just the NFL when it comes to gridiron.

You might have noticed that American football is rather popular on this side of the Atlantic, with enough interest for regular games to be played in London since 2007. There are over 300,000 Google searches for ‘American football’ every year in the UK and the interest doesn’t just stop at watching the sport, with 28,600 players.

British American Football League

Those players are registered with the British American Football Association (BAFA), which oversee all contact and non-contact versions of the game in the UK. The BAFA was founded in 1985 and, in 2010, formed the BAFA National Leagues (BAFANL) as the primary competition for American football in Great Britain,

Seventy teams hold full BAFANL membership status, with both men and women competing. The most successful are the London Warriors (originally founded as London Cobras in 2007), having won the BritBowl (the BAFANL’s answer to the Super Bowl) on six occasions since the formation of the league.

There are also women’s and youth leagues, making American football an inclusive sport for all in the country. In total, there are 243 registered adult teams (contact and non-contact) and 113 registered youth teams (contact and non-contact).

Notable British American Football Players

There have been some notable names to have played in the BAFANL, such as Efe Obada who played for the London Warriors in 2014 before moving to the Dallas Cowboys in 2015, Aden Durde (London Olympians) who was signed to the Carolina Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs, and Marvin Allen (London Olympians and London Warriors), who was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers when the franchise was crowned Super Bowl champions in 2008.

The sport has also attracted names from other sports, most notably England Rugby World Cup-winning captain Martin Johnson who turned out for Leicester Panthers in the early 1990s, sprinter Dwain Chambers who played for Farnham Knights in 2005. Television presenter Vernon Kay has also played in the BAFANL for London Warriors between 2011 and 2014, appearing in multiple BritBowls.

History of the BritBowl

The BritBowl was first given its name in 2006 (BritBowl XX) to mark the 20th anniversary of the championship game, with the prior 19 finals being retrospectively renamed. Additionally, since the 2006 BritBowl, the winners have been presented with the Boston Trophy, which was named in honour of where the league was first formed.

Overall, the London Olympians (12) have won the BritBowl on the most occasions, with the London Warriors the most successful team since the BAFANL’s inception, winning six BritBowl titles – all of which have come in the last seven holdings of the game. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the BritBowl has not been held since 2019 (at the time of writing), when the London Warriors ran out 56-29 winners over Tamworth Phoenix at the New River Stadium.

Previous BritBowls have been held at Sixways Stadium, Allianz Park, Don Valley Stadium, Keepmoat Stadium, and Villa Park.

Super Bowl Viewership and Popularity

The Super Bowl, whatever way you look at it, is the sport’s showpiece event. It is what every fan and player dreams of playing in – lifting the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy. In 2021, NFL UK reported that year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched in the UK for over 30 years, averaging an audience of one million, with a total of four million watching or listening to the game, which saw Tom Brady lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 31-9 victory over Kansas City Chiefs.

As the popularity of the NFL continues to grow in the UK then so, too, will that of British American Football as more and more fans register to play for a local club. As rumours of a British NFL franchise refuse to go away, there could be more incentives for British gridiron fans to want to play, or even just go to watch a game in the flesh rather than burning the midnight candle in front of the television.

Here at Fen Regis Trophies, we stock a wide range of fantastic awards and trophies and invite you to browse our selection online. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in contact with a member of our team today.

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