We are now just five days away from the start of the 2014 British American Football season, and the Farnham Knights have a tricky road trip to negotiate at the Swindon Storm in the National South West conference.
In our continuing waltz around the country interviewing the people that make our game so great in the UK, we had the chance to chat to David Ferebee, GM of the Farnham Knights.
The Knights have been in existence since the first boom of the sport in the UK, so it was only right that we came knocking on their door as we preview the coming season, and as the GM points out the Knights are in a transitional period.
* * *
I joined the University of Surrey Stingers 18 years ago and played for them at left tackle throughout University. As many University football players do, I then moved to my local Adult football team which happened to be the Farnham Knights where I played until 2007. Unfortunately I had picked up some knee injuries which forced me to retire so I left the sport until 2011 when I came back to the Knights as part of the backroom staff. Due to various people leaving the club and various events, I found myself in 2012 in charge of the entire club so, as the General Manager, I have spent the last two years rebuilding the club back to it’s glory days.
Whilst the Farnham Knights Adult team ran out 2013 with a 4-6 record, the Farnham Knights Youth team ran an impressive 10-1-1 record and ran the eventual champions the Birmingham Bulls to a very close semi final. The aim of all three of the Farnham Knights teams is to win championships and my role is to ensure we have the very best of everything to help my coaches and players achieve this.
American Football has a bad reputation in the UK, it’s seen as “rugby for girls” because of the padding but people do not realise the impacts involved in the game and that the padding is there for the players protection. What the NFL are currently doing is helping, and the Knights now have over 100 players across our three teams, some of whom will be stars of the future, but still any American Football club in the UK struggles to be taken seriously by the media and local authorities.
The game itself (in the UK) is solid, I wouldn’t change anything about the format. What would help is simple exposure, if local and national newspapers, radio and television were to simply report the results even if just the Premiership fixtures, things would change in a big way.
(We also asked David for his thoughts on an NFL franchise in the UK and would it impact on the game here?
In a word, yes. I’ve already heard it said that NFL players would not want to play in the London franchise, simply uprooting your family to another state is bad enough, but all the way to England? And you’d spend eight weeks a year travelling to and from the USA for away games, NFL players are not going to want to play for London. So where do they get players from? Europe. A London NFL franchise will be stacked full of European talent and this will see professional athletes from other sports moving to American Football.
The Farnham Knights do have a five year plan, we’re a year into it already and right on schedule. The goal is to be back at the top level of football and for all Farnham Knights teams to be competing for silverware each and every year. I remember the days when people feared playing the Farnham Knights because we were so good, those days are coming again.
* * *
If you are local to Farnham and would like to get involved with the Knights, they can be contacted via their website www.farnhamknights.com
We would like to thank David for his time, and wish the Knights all the best for this season, and the future.