While America has dedicated the past few months to raising the profile of talented college prospects going into Thursday night’s NFL draft, the battle to simply increase participation has continued in Yorkshire.
By Cameron Hogwood
Dreams of playing in the NFL came true last night as teams looked to draft the next big name in American Football.
Elsewhere in England, the existence of two Leeds based sides in the Yorkshire Rams and Leeds Bobcats continues to be overlooked and unknown by many, despite the British media’s growing interest in America’s National Football League.
London will host three NFL games during the 2016/2017 season while a deal has recently been struck to live stream Thursday night football on social media site Twitter as of next year.
Yorkshire Rams quarterback Taylor Umland has spoken of the issues England has when it comes to increasing participation at a young age.
He said: “I think England needs to grow its domestic game first and then worry about putting people on a grander stage. If English kids don’t see English people being successful at the sport then they’re never going to pursue it.”
Umland proceeded to suggest a way of helping the expansion of the British league and highlighted the lack of awareness surrounding the presence of the sport in Yorkshire.
He said: “It could end up that it needs to get picked up by a bigger network. Look at Darts, it was nothing and then all of a sudden Sky says, why not? Now it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread.”
“The Yorkshire Rams are celebrating their 30th anniversary, I’ve spoken to people who have lived in Leeds their entire life and they’ve never heard of them. It’s not shoved in your face every day like football is so it’s hard to grow it.”
“If you want to find American Football in Yorkshire, it’s there. If you want to play there’s probably a team within half hour of where you live in this country. I think the more and more people who play on the planet, the more and more people who will see it and want to try something different.”
The head coach of the Leeds Academy of American Football Dale Bottomley commented on the rise in youth participation in the sport that he has experienced.
He said: “We have definitely seen a growth in the game at the youth level but that is down to a huge amount of hard work to promote it the sport in schools. The NFL playing in London and the rise in social media has helped this but without physically going into schools and delivering sessions the game would not grow.”