NFL to touch down in East London
The East End could provide American football's first generation of British superstars as the NFL prepares to launch a training camp in East London
EAST LONDON could provide the NFL's first generation of British superstars, according to American football coach Gerry Anderson.
More than a million people in Britain watched this month's Super Bowl, while the NFL is scheduled to make a third successive appearance at Wembley Stadium in October as the sport's popularity in this country continues to boom.
NFL chiefs believe that Britain could have its own professional team within the next decade and Anderson, a development officer for the NFL, believes youngsters from the East End could become future stars of the sport.
Anderson is responsible for introducing young people to American football and next week he will launch a free three-day training camp in East London.
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The camp, which is run in conjunction with Leyton Orient Community Sports Programme (LOSCP), begins at Drapers Fields on Wednesday and will see NFL-qualified coaches teach the fundamentals of the sport.
Anderson is convinced that such schemes could ultimately produce a British player capable of cracking the starting line-up for an NFL team.
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He said: "There's no reason why East London can't produce an NFL player in the future. I can definitely see it happening because we've got the athletes here.
"The only thing that can prevent that from happening is not enough kids are playing - that's why we're creating opportunities for them to play.
"We're trying to give the kids an opportunity to experience American football, try on shoulder pads and helmets and see what it feels like to play the game."
Though American football is typically associated with hulking giants and violent collisions, Anderson explains that almost anyone can play the game - provided they have enthusiasm.
"There's a perception that it's only for big kids or that you need to have a certain toughness, but the reality is completely different.
"It's a sport for all shapes and sizes and it's great for kids who aren't good at soccer or rugby or cricket because of the different types of skills and the different body types that it requires.
"Physical attributes aren't important, the most important thing is you've just got to want to play."
The NFL/LOSCP training camp starts on Wednesday February 18 with a kit fitting session from 11am-3pm and then continues with skills and games on Thursday and Friday from 10am-4pm.
The camp is designed for complete beginners and is open to girls and boys aged 14-18. You must be pre-registered on the course using forms that are available online or by post. For more information and a registration form please contact Paul Motion on 020 8556 5973 or firstname.lastname@example.org.