Sports writer Laurence Piper previews the Birmingham Lions’ season, reflecting on their prospects against other BUCS sides
Under the lights of the Bournbrook pitches the 6-time National Champions Birmingham Lions are once again preparing for their tough season ahead in the BUCS Premiership South.
As is the nature of university sport, the team changes year-to-year with established starters graduating and in turn being replaced with rookies, many of whom have never played American Football before. This is exactly what makes the University of Birmingham American Football team unique.
Built not bought is one of the team’s sayings, and this season for the Lions will be no different, as each season the program faces the challenge of turning players, the majority of which know very little about the X’s and O’s of the sport, into players capable of competing at the top level of university sport.
However, the biggest change for the team this year is the coaching turnover that the program underwent following last season’s semi-final exit vs. Nottingham Gold. New head coach Nelson Charles-Nwufoh has made it his mission to make his program: “the number one option for British athletes and people who want options in life,” as this team continues to devote itself to excellence in every aspect.
The changes made at the top of the program will only serve to cement this mentality, as the past held motto of #MoreThanFootball has evolved into the team’s new rallying cries of #LearnProsperConquer and #AdornedAboveAll. These two mantras are set to define this upcoming season both for the team as a collective on the field and as individuals off of it.
The Premiership South this season consists of several challenging opponents, most notable of which are the reigning National Champions UWE Bullets as well as the freshly promoted South Gloucestershire and Stroud (SGS) Pride team.
Despite this, the Lions are only worried about themselves and focused on their first opponent of the season, the UEA Pirates whom the team has dominated in recent seasons. However,complacency is not something that this team is capable of, as they understand that wins cannot be taken for granted, they must be earnt.
So, when asked about the upcoming season Coach Nelson had this to say: “The season has started well so far; we have had a strong recruitment giving us a good mix of new and old faces as we settle into our preparations for the first game of the season within the Premiership.”
Following their season opener, the team will face SGS Pride in back-to-back weeks first away and then at home on the 6th November. In what is set to be a gruelling trial by fire for this new look UoB team, Head Coach Nelson is confident in the Lions’ ability to not just compete with the best but defeat them saying that: “we are looking to have a strong season and give a great spectacle to those that come and watch,” whilst the new Offensive Coordinator added that “the players are putting in a lot of good work and I am certain that if they keep up this hard work, they will reap exactly what they have sown.”
Speaking of spectacle, I would be remis not to talk the annual xpLosION game which this year will be taking place on 13th November as the team hosts the Cardiff Cobras. Each year the American Football Lions puts on an exciting display of the sport, featuring a whole host of other aspects which in the past have included things such as fireworks, fire cannons, an impressive half-time show from the UoB Pussycat Cheerleaders, a UoB Dance Society performance, a talented music band as well as a visit from Digbeth Dining Club.
I would encourage everyone to come down to get a first-hand sense of what this team is all about at any of their home games but especially xpLosION as I for one wouldn’t miss it for the world.
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