Our first ‘Club of the Month’ is Kent Phoenix who have just formed this year. Based in Maidstone, they are looking to bring many young people into the sport. We spoke to Ian Miles about the club and their ambitions.
- When was your club formed, where and by who?
Our staff and coaches started to formulate ideas as to how youth football could move forward in the summer of 2016 and put forward a proposal to an existing club as to how we thought this could be done working with them, This proposal was rejected and therefore we decided that the best thing to do would be to start up on our own from scratch, our first training session was conducted with little more than a few footballs and a set of marker cones! It was a big step and we were not entirely sure that a Youth only American Football club would be feasible but believed in our plan and with a great deal of hard work, support and a little luck managed to bring it all together in a very short time.
- What teams do you currently have?
We currently have players aged 8-18 training with us and we have divided these into 3 groups, Under 11 Cadet Flag which focuses its training on teaching the very basics of the sport and showing the kids the fun side of the sport. Then we have our Under 14 Flag group which starts to focus more on the technical aspects of the sport and develops basic skills, we also introduce the concepts of blocking and tackling to this group as part of the progression. Finally we have our Under 17 Kitted Team, this group introduces Contact Football and the wearing of Pads and Helmets, the focus of this group is foundation skills and techniques required to progress further in the sport. These groups are important to us and we are keen to make sure that our program offers the best development opportunities in order to get players skills and abilities to the highest possible standard.
- Where and when do you train?
We train at Cornwallis Academy, Hubbards Lane, Maidstone on Sunday mornings from 0945-1300 (1200 finish for Cadets). We are very lucky as the facilities at the school offer us the opportunity to run Indoor, Outdoor and Classroom based sessions.
- What are your plans for the next twelve months?
As you can imagine the last few months have been incredibly busy just getting the club set up and there is still a great deal of work left to do. The start of 2017 will see us running our Winter training program which will fortunately be indoors and will concentrate on Footwork, Agility and basic positional skills, during this time we will start to actively recruit players and look to raise our profile and awareness of our sport. Through the Spring and Summer we will work with local organisations such as SEYAF to organise and run Flag events which we have been delighted to be a part of already during the Autumn, our Under 17 team will be entering the National League competition and we look forward to seeing our kids test their skills against a number of established and experienced teams. Another key aspect of our development will be recruiting players and coaches to form an Under 19 Kitted team which we aim to launch in September 2017. As you can see we have a lot of plans and plenty of hard work ahead of us…
- Why should people get into American Football?
American Football is a fun sport that is one of the most inclusive you can play, it requires players with a wide variety of skills sets and abilities and can find a position for anyone regardless of gender, ability, size or strength. It also teaches discipline, respect and focuses on teamwork that provides young people with a positive outlet and activity.
- What would you consider the clubs greatest achievement?
We have achieved so much in such a short space of time it is hard to pick a single greatest achievement. Simply getting ourselves established, seeing our numbers grow (coaches and players) and earning the respect of other organisations has been a testament to the hard work, commitment and belief shown by everyone involved.
- Why should people join the Phoenix?
If we are your local club then by joining us you will be part of an organisation that is fully focused on Youth American Football Development, our training program is designed to both introduce new players and develop existing ones in order for them to be able to progress further in the sport to the highest level.
- What would be your favourite football moment ever – either domestic or international?
As a fledgling organisation our favourite moment would have to be our very first training session, we did not know how many players we would have nor did we have a huge amount of equipment with which to train but we had over 20 players and ran a session that was fun for all. Seeing everyone smiling and having fun meant the world to us and gave us the confidence to push ourselves and grow.
- Please sum up your club in 25 words or less!
Ambitious, friendly, focused and determined to provide young people with the best opportunity to learn and develop their American Football skills.