The growth of the Carnegie Chargers and Women’s American Football

Carnegie Chargers, photo by Leeds Beckett University

Currently, one of the fastest growing sports in the UK is American Football. Each year, the London games consistently sell out their season attendance, which amounts to more than 350,000 people.

Local side, Carnegie Chargers are looking to increase the sport’s popularity even more, by hosting events and fundraisers. The Chargers are the only women’s American Football team in West Yorkshire, based at Headingley at Leeds Beckett University.

The side compete in the Sapphire Series, where they have won five of their six games so far, placing them firmly at the top of their table.

The Charger’s aim to accumulate a squad total of 30 members a year whose ages range from 17 and above. Many of each year’s members tend to be new faces, but the squad do have a core group of players who have been with the club for years.

The Carnegie Chargers were established in 2012 by a group of girls who are still with the club today.

They used to be part of the Yorkshire Rams, but a group of their female players felt they wanted to start their own team.

Current captain, Robin Stewart, gathered some of their female members and applied to the University to start their own women’s team, which was accepted.

Since being established, the team have constantly been looking to recruit as many females as they could. One of their main messages when advertising to women is that involvement in the team requires little or even no knowledge of the game.

Chairman of the Chargers, Megan Robinson, said: “You can literally just get involved, I didn’t know anything about American Football before I joined.

“I even said to the girls on the team that I have literally never watched a game.

“They said its fine we will teach you everything and they pretty much have.”

This gives a wider amount of individuals the chance to join the club and learn the basics of American Football. Many of the females who play for them have been persuaded to try it out by friends but also by social media.

Their Twitter account plays host to over 600 followers, which allows them to reach a variety of different females who are looking to join a team.

Megan said: “I went on their social media and I saw that women were welcome and it was quite feminist.”

The Chairman also discussed the positives with playing American Football. Firstly she spoke about the fitness aspect of the game. After arriving at the Chargers, Megan has felt that her fitness has improved due to the level of work the team do on their stamina and strength.

Megan also spoke about the social aspect of American Football, she said: “All my best friends are on the team.” Being part of a team allows the women to work together and help each other, which creates a bond between them, which Megan called, “The Caf family.”

The Carnegie Chargers main aim is to develop and expand their club. One way they do this is by hosting three rookie games, which are being held this September.

These games invite as many women as they can to come and practice the basic skills of American Football. This includes simple ball exercises, light contact tackling and other drills which test your speed.

However, the way they host all these trial days and other events is through fundraising. Their most recent fundraising event is called a tri-caf-lon, which is being held on September 2nd.

This includes each member of the squad taking part in a bike race, a sprint and a weight lifting challenge.

This is done over a period of 24 hours and the participants are all split into teams of three. This event also raises money not just for their team, but also for charity which creates a “community link.”

Competing within the Chargers could just be a way to improve a female’s fitness, but for some individuals it is a path to play at a higher level.

One girl previously played netball, but after joining the Chargers she now represents Great Britain. 14 of the Carnegie’s players also play American Football for Great Britain.

The Carnegie Chargers are attempting to introduce American Football to as many females as they can, which over the past six years has shown that they have been successful.

Any female who wants to become part of team, to contact the Chargers and get involved.