THERE’S no question that American Football has risen to great heights in popularity over here in the UK.
With more and more NFL matches being played at Wembley every season and talk of a potential London franchise in the league, the sports has taken huge steps to becoming a major sport in the United Kingdom.
But a very important step forwards was taken when the women’s American Football team played their first ever international match against Sweden in September.
Leading the charge that day for Team GB was Beverley Marwood – a former Teesside University student who’s honoured with the distinction of leading the team into their first international match.
Beverley said: “It’s a great honour, fantastic and one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in sport!
“So proud to be able to be given that honour in the first place but to be able to lead another 39 girls into unknown territory as it was our first ever 11-a-side international.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement and earning the captaincy really reflects on how supportive people have been.”
Bevelery studied MsC Physiotherapy during her time at Teesside University – skills she would be able to take into her role as a physiotherapist for the likes of the Newcastle Vikings American Football team. She says her work as a physio helps massively when she’s on the field.
She said: “The general knowledge of physio keeps me fit and helps me be able to train. “It helps you avoid injuries a lot less frequently having the knowledge of how to take care of your body.
“It definitely helps 100% on the pitch.”
Team GB marked their first match by locking horns with Sweden – the third highest-ranked team in Europe.
Despite the formidable challenge, the ladies were able to overcome the Swedes and triumphed 26-14.
Beverley was pleased that the team put themselves on the map big-time with the win over Sweden, adding: “Underneath it all, we knew we could win but we knew we were going out there with a big challenge. To win in such great style was absolutely fantastic.
“To knock off the third best in Europe, Sweden, is a major accomplishment.”
Beverley currently serves as general manager for the Teesside Steelers women’s American football team – the first and only one of it’s kind in the North-East.
Teesside Steelers were formed after Beverley discovered that there wasn’t a lot of support for women wanting to take part in the sport in the North.
The team travels down south a lot to take part in the GB development scheme and it’s paid off for the team – FIVE Steelers represented GB in the match against Sweden.
Beverley said: “It’s an absolute fantastic achievement.
“The girls have worked so hard for the last few years.
“A couple of those players had only been playing for less than a year so it just goes to show how hard they worked and how much effort our coaches have put in to get them to where they needed to be.”
Beverley was also very thankful for the support of the team and even the media coverage from the likes of BBC Tees and the Northern Echo!
Beverley said: “We’re getting a lot more support and people are getting behind us.
“Social media is a fantastic way of getting it out but actually getting it into the local newspapers, like the Gazette and the Echo, has been amazing.
“It makes people aware that we exactly and off the back of that, we will get more numbers and a lot of support from that.”
Beverley says her family has been a massive motivator for her to take part in the- sport.
Beverley said: “They initially thought I was crazy for doing it!
“But they know that I’m into that as I’ve played rugby before.
“When I told them I was trying out American Football they were 100% supportive.”
Having knocked off Sweden, Beverley is hoping for GB to take things to the next level with the European Championships next year.
This would Team GB’s first stint in the championship and the captain is hoping to make a huge impact.
Beverley said: “We’re aiming for the European Championship next year and if it comes off, we’ll be playing the likes of Germany, Finland and Norway.
“The Euros give us a chance to face team’s that are well established and have years and years of experience.
“We’ve got a whole year to work towards that.”
And if things go according to plan in the Euros, Beverley is hoping to get to battle with the best teams in the world at the World Championship afterwards!
“The US are currently the best in the world so we’d love to give them a good go!”