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Inverness Blitz

21 October 2013

Inverness Blitz is a charity dedicated to promoting American Football in Inverness. Its key aims are to increase public participation in sport and to improve community spirit and citizenship.

Inverness Blitz was awarded £2000 from the Baillie Gifford Community Awards Fund towards the cost of equipment required for the development of a Highland Community League for American Football for teams from five secondary schools in Inverness.

American football is a minority sport in Scotland, with limited opportunities for people to get involved. The Blitz initially offered Flag Football training, however, interest was difficult to sustain due to a lack of opportunities for young people to train and gain the experience required to make the transition to a performance league level. The new Highland Community League programme would help resolve this issue; both offering access to the sport and promoting ongoing physical activity.

The league has proved to be a great success- providing young people with an opportunity to learn new skills, including self discipline and the responsibilities that come with being a member of a team.

The league offers those who have showed a flair for American Football the opportunity to join the regional team, eventually leading to the chance to compete with other teams throughout the UK. Since the league began, the regional teams have grown in numbers, rising from thirteen players to forty fighting it out for a place in the squad.

There is also potential for those involved to gain coaching qualifications, with many of the boys from the league teaching younger pupils how to play touch football, opening up possible career paths in coaching for those showing an interest.

The league has also helped to improve the lives of others in the community. One young man suffering from severe depression volunteered for the Blitz; initially writing up match reports and taking photos for the league’s website. Since then, his involvement has grown and he now referees some matches.  This volunteer role has enabled him to develop new skills and confidence; he has recently started a work placement with a local newspaper!  He is quite certain that it is his involvement with Inverness Blitz that helped turn his life around. He said: "Since joining, my life has been getting better and better… without the Wildcats I honestly don't know what I would be doing with myself.”

The league has been so successful that the British American Football Association (BAFA) is looking to roll it out throughout all schools; using it as a model to base future leagues on.

Highland Wildcats Youth Development Officer Robbie Paulin commented, “It’s great that BAFA, the sports national governing body, has recognised the benefits of what we are doing and they want to use our model as a blueprint for the rest of the country - without the grant none of this would have been possible”.

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