Portsmouth Dreadnoughts

With the women’s game still in its infancy in this country, finding places to play can be hard. For Charyle Mercer and others at Portsmouth Dreadnoughts, getting a women’s side was as much about determination as it was in playing ability. Read about their story as they feature as our July Club of the Month.

  • When was your club formed, where and by who?

As a new sport, and in particularly a women’s game there is always difficulty with recruitment, which is why it is so important to get women into such great sports!

My personal experience was; last year we had the Portsmouth Destroyers team which was university affiliated. After being with them for a while, loving the sport and developing well, the union informed the team they could not have any external players, and I could not qualify for the team as I was not a student.

So a couple of us now had nowhere to play, which was absolutely gutting.

We knew one girl that played for the community team for the men’s, so we joined in with their training in everyone’s hopes more women would then also attend.

But playing with the men is not for all. So nothing more came from getting women there. The women that wanted to carry on playing with men did so.

After meeting with the chairmen of the men’s team, he informed me women recruitment was always difficult and they could not ever succeed in getting it off the ground. After waiting some time as he assured me, there was still no development in them being able to get it going. But I like many, I wanted to play in Sapphire, against other women.

During this time, I was happy when the Destroyers contacted the couple they had to let go to welcome us back as they found a loop hole. In which we would be covered, and the UNI was happy with. So we went back and played for them but on the certain conditions set out due to not being a student.

I did not want anyone else to ever be in the predicament we found ourselves in, so I decided we should still look into having a community team and not give up on the idea.

After then approaching some of the BAFA community for advice and I was told to go for it. I contacted the chairmen and said I have been told to do it myself. He was more than happy for me to run with it, and link in with the guys. The only thing was to see if any of the men wanted to develop into coaches/help out the initial set up. Which many of them were reluctant due to experience or unqualified.

However, I put forward a recommendation and we finally got going with small numbers at first as expected. But then an opportunity came up, to support our local team the Destroyers Now low on numbers, I did not want to see our sister team now struggle, so I extended a proposal for a merge of kinds. This led to an organised coaching structure and an inflation in numbers.

Where now anyone is welcome to come and play!

  • What teams do you currently have?

The women’s club currently compete in the opal series for flag football and the Sapphire series for tackle football.

There is also a men’s team at the club and also a youth set up.

  • Where and when do you train?

It is at Havant Rugby Club and the ladies train at Monday 18:30-20:00 & Wednesdays 18:30-20:00

Havant RFC, Hooks Lane, Fraser Road, Bedhampton, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 3EJ

Time to join the Dreadnoughts?

  • What are your plans for the next twelve months?

For the club, like most of the women’s clubs will be recruit, recruit, recruit! Generally raising the bar from the first year to be even greater next year!

  • Why should people get into American Football?

It is an amazing game. You literally work together as a team when you stand on that field, you are like a family. It’s a determined sport. It is fast paced, requiring quick reactions and I love the challenge it brings. I played (soccer) football my whole life, but now I feel like this is it! You’ll never know unless you try it out.

  1. What would you consider the club’s greatest achievement?

It was the first year for the club, and it done so well! The team mainly consists of rookies, that are completely new to the sport, some even to contact sport and even so,

in Opal the team qualified for the playoffs, and in Sapphire came runners up!

This was an amazing accomplishment.

  • Do you have any players and coaches of note – past or present?

Every coach, volunteer, and player in any team I believe are all deserving “of note” as they put in their hard work and their time to develop and contribute to their team being better. Anyone that has that passion toward their team deserves a mention!  But, I cannot name every single person in the team 😉 I could not single out one person.

  • Why should people join the Dreadnoughts?

It’s a new team to grow with, and I think anyone who is new would like to take that journey with them!

  • What would be your favourite football moment ever – either domestic or international?

Representing my country. Also now being selected for the world championships. Words just can’t describe how that feels.

Charyle ready for action

  • Please sum up your club in 25 words or less!

Up and coming, passionate, accelerating, developing, competitive, community. Everyone has a desire to do better in all aspects.

  • Can you provide contact details for people wishing to join the club?


For anyone wanting to join the club send an email to dreadnoughtswomensacademy@gmail.com

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