BAFA Timeout – A Coach’s Perspective – Part 2

The countdown to the new British American Football season is well and truly on, we are just a short week away from the opening games. We have been touring the country getting to know what makes the game so great on our shores, with the help of teams, players and coaches.

A couple of weeks ago we caught up with Dave Butler and got his view on things, from how he started getting involved, to what it takes to help build and maintain a team.

Part 2 of our conversation sees him tackle the structure of our game here and what impact an NFL franchise would have on our game.

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I think everyone involved with the UK game would love to see this sport get itself more in the spotlight in some way, and there are always debates on what can or should be done, but also always someone to shoot it down.

I don’t think BAFA do enough to promote the game itself, so just need some better self promotion, but I think BAFCA do a great job (coaches convention is an amazing experience) and without BAFRA none of us could play, so it’s a double edged sword with it being under BAFA, I would love to see better promotion, highlighted games of the week, and other ideas to make a bigger deal out of our sport.

I love what Gridiron TV bring to the UK game, there is an opportunity there for a weekly round up magazine style show, if they had the funds. Gridiron Magazine and Huddle magazine have a buzz within the NFL fans and I just hope they bring the UK game into it and get more and more people interested.

Having seating and other facilities for fans would be a nice league requirement, but the reality is that may never happen. It’s really tough to get a ground to play on, let alone attract fans to come and stand for three hours in the rain, but were an amateur sport and you can go and see the same amount of spectators at soccer or rugby amateur games.

Getting people to watch is probably harder than getting players to play, that is where we’re at our most niche. At the minute it really isn’t a fan sport, it’s a participant sport in my honest opinion.

However, it’s great to see teams take it on themselves to provide the best game experience they can.

The likes of Nottingham and Gateshead have fantastic facilities and I love what DC Presidents do. They push the sport and have great ideas that match decent attendances. I saw 300 people at the inaugural Sandwell Steelers game last October, so speaking from my own experience, there are teams definitely giving their all.

I grew up watching imports play here, the only rule change I would make is allowing imports or an import back into the UK game, but that is opening the door for a whole other debate.

I will say this, with the rise of social media, teams do a great job promoting online. A lot of the stuff I see and games I see are promoted by teams themselves and dedicated sites to the sport. I see and hear nothing from BAFA, they may put some information out but it isn’t enough.

Would NFL UK aid our game? Absolutely. Having them promote our game at the Wembley dates and beyond would be amazing. You could also toy with the idea of the Premier BritBowl played before the NFL game or an All-Star game played, just things like that to give our game that lift.

That’s just one avenue, teams could be given the chance to have stalls at the Wembley games, another chance to self promote and let people who go to watch an NFL game know there may be a team near them – even a map in the programme highlighting all of the UK teams – that’s just brushing the surface.

An NFL team here would perk up my interest for sure. I currently don’t follow or watch the NFL, but a British-based team would be amazing. Look at what the Jaguars did in their time here, the work with UK players and coaches, so yes I believe it could increase interest across the board. That said, logistically, it may never happen.

I see the league over here pretty much on the same course over the next handful of years, which isn’t a bad thing.

Many would say the league is already over saturated, and with more teams scheduled to enter via associate there will always be more. I do think BAFA regulate this rather well, and the teams that have come through over the past few years have really done themselves proud.

At the Wildcats, we helped out both DC and Sandwell in their associate process and both will be a credit to the league. I feel the same about the likes of Hastings Conquerors.

The game has been around since the early 1980s over here, and while we still play it we will continue to support it and hopefully grow it, each in their own way.

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We would like to thank Coach Butler for his time and wish him well in the future.


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