PICTURES: Northampton students prepare to travel to Florida to represent the UK in global flag football championship

“They’re going to inspire a new generation to play flag football”

Students from a Northampton primary school are preparing to travel to Orlando, Florida to represent the UK in a global flag football championship.

12 students from Lings Primary School will compete at the 2024 Pro Bowl in the NFL Flag Championship.

The school was crowned last year’s NFL UK Flag Football National Primary School Champion at the biggest ever national finals, held at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last June.

This followed a nine-week series of local and regional finals to earn their place, with their success now seeing them jet off to America this week.

Flag football is a non-contact version of American football and Tom Davies, the PE specialist at Lings Primary School, has coached the students throughout their journey.

When asked how proud he is of the team, Tom said: “You can’t really put it into words. They hadn’t played before and spent breaks, lunches and every minute putting the work in.

“The way they are and how they have grown into the people they are today – they are proud of themselves.”

The first regional stage saw them compete in five games, up against 12 other schools. They won all five games to compete on a national level.

They then had to compete against the regional winners in the UK and faced three games. Despite suffering their only loss of the year, Tom says the “setback did them good”.

“They battled hard and showed determination,” he added. “I’m super proud.”

Showing even more perseverance, the students took on the sport outside of school – as Tom coaches it at a club outside of Lings Primary too.

He says not only do they train, but they use their initiative to watch flag football games and think through tactics they could implement themselves.

Of the 12 squad members, the youngest is 10 and the eldest is 12 – and they all fly out, along with three coaches, on Wednesday (January 31) ready to compete this weekend.

When asked what it would mean if the students were to win the championship in Orlando, Tom said: “It would mean absolutely everything. They’re realistic and know it’s going to be hard. They want to break the top five.”

Tom says the sport is not very popular, particularly in Northampton, as his club is the only one offering coaching at the moment.

Northampton’s first flag football school tournament was held last year, which saw 12 schools compete. However, the year before that there was nothing of the kind on offer.

“They’re going to inspire a new generation to play flag football,” said Tom. “I’ve already had teachers and children reach out to get involved.”

The UK’s first female American coach in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills and current Team GB NFL flag player, Phoebe Schecter, joined the students on Friday (January 26) for their final training session.

Take a look at these 17 photos of the final training session before the Lings Primary School students jet off to the championship…