Alternative London Workouts #8: Flag Football

By London_Duncan Last edited 175 months ago

Last Updated 20 October 2009

Alternative London Workouts #8: Flag Football

Photo of the London Rebels copyright of Paul Kubalek

It’s autumn and, along with the crispness in the air, it’s time for American Football. The National Football League is hosting its third International Series game on October 25 at Wembley (the New England Patriots versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Kevin McCandless of the London Rebels is here to explain how you can improve your fitness at the same time as learning the game, all without a helmet or a shoulder pad in sight.

What: Back in the day, American Football grew out of elite university students playing their own form of Rugby on campuses such as Harvard and Yale. And now, with the rise of “flag” American football here in the capital, you can take part in the excitement… except without the bone-crunching tackles seen on television. This non-contact version of the game offers simplified rules for small-sided teams but with the same pigskin passing and open field dashes to glory.

Where & When: The London Rebels usually hold two to three scrimmages a month on Sundays in central London. Anyone of any level of experience is welcome to join in. Play begins in the late morning and usually goes for two to three hours. The Rebels also have a team that competes in The British American Football League, which runs from around May to September. For people outside London, you can find a club near you by going to the British American Football League’s website, where there are forums and a whole community devoted to American Football. The BAFL has over forty affiliated teams throughout Britain, which include sides for youngsters from 12 to 18. If you want to find out the rules to the game and other information on how to get into the game, another good website to check out is Get Into American Football.

The Rundown: In flag football, players wear belts with plastic flags attached to them by Velcro. You are stopped when an opponent rips one of them off. Depending on the number of people who show up for a game, rules are very flexible. The length of the field is usually less than the standard hundred yards. However, the goal of each team is unchanged, to score more touchdowns than their foes by running or passing the ball down into the end zone. Studded boots are usually recommended, as well as clothes fit for mud and rain. Small fees are usually expected for participation in special tournaments.

Is it the right fit for you?: You don’t have to be American to play or even know the rules of the game, which are easy to pick up. Several members of the London Rebels club are British. Learning to catch and throw what the Yanks call a football does take a little time but people familiar with rugby should have no trouble. However, you do have to be ready to run, run, run!

For more info contact Brad Madison, Founder and Head Coach of the London Rebels.