American football in the UK has received a boost with the official recognition of the sport at university level.
Having gone through the BUCS Sport Criteria assessment successfully the British American Football Association’s (BAFA) flagship university league will become a British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Championship league from the start of the 2012-13 season, earning competing institutions national ranking points and giving the sport a status alongside many of the country’s Olympic and more established sports.
Heralding the announcement BAFA Chair Gary Marshall said ”This is a historic time for football. BUCS play an important part in shaping and delivering sport across Great Britain and we are delighted that we will formally be working with them on the development of our sport. ”
The importance of this landmark announcement was also recognised by the National Football League, which has been playing regular season games at Wembley Stadium every year since 2007, resulting in a surge in the sport’s popularity across many levels.
Alistair Kirkwood, the Managing Director of NFLUK added: “Congratulations to the BUAFL for achieving this significant landmark for the sport in the UK. A lot of people have spent long hours developing American football at the university level in this country - just as much work went into the presentation to BUCS. We are delighted the efforts of so many people has achieved recognition in this way and we look forward to seeing the university game flourish in future years.”
Richard Fuller MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for American Football said: “I would like to congratulate BUCS for accepting the great sport of American Football. I believe that it will only raise the popularity of the game in the UK and hope that it continues to develop all across the country.”
Adam Provost, the Managing Director of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) said: “We are delighted that BUCS will be recognising the National Championship. A close working relationship between BAFA and BUCS will only serve to add value to the sport’s development across great Britain and we at IFAF look forward to playing a full part in defining the future.”
Sky Sports NFL presenter and member of the BUAFL’s BUCS bid team Neil Reynolds concluded: “The BUAFL has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years and, for me, the league is a true sporting success story. This recognition by BUCS is well deserved and provides a platform upon which the sport of American football can be grown even further among British universities in the coming years.”
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for higher education sport in the UK. Its vision is to enhance the student experience in three key areas:
To do this, BUCS works with student athletes, athletic union staff and elected officers as well as professional sporting staff, coaches and volunteers at its 161 member institutions. It offers a comprehensive, multi-sport competition structure and manages the development of services and facilities for participative, grass-roots sport and healthy campuses through to high-performance, elite athletes.
The BUCS sporting programme is available to the 2.3 million students across the UK. Over 100,000 students regularly compete in BUCS competitions, leagues and events. BUCS delivers over 50 sports to these students and universities and organises 150 individual final or championship events each year.