> American Football team desperate for success after bitter disappointment of play-off defeat

For many people American football is an alien concept, a sport that is looked upon as a minority sport.

However its influence has been spreading across the UK and in the last ten years the American football scene in England has changed dramatically. It has become widely accessible for nearly anyone to play the game.

There are leagues for youth players, students and adults as well as national competitions. Most large cities will have at least one team that fits into one of the leagues. Bristol proudly have the highest number of teams which currently stands at six, this includes two adult teams, two student teams, one youth team and the unique Filton Pride programme.

While this may have caught your interest it still leaves the problem of not understanding the game so a run through of the basics of the game is necessary. American football is a game where every yards counts and every inch of that yard is fiercely fought for. The object of the game is simple, like most sports outscore your opponent. Each team has two main units, the offense whose job is to score and the defence who, as you might have guessed, have the job of stopping the opposing team from scoring. When a team’s offense is on the field they have to make 10 yards or more every 3 attempts.

With a fourth attempt generally being kept as a chance to kick the ball as far down the field as possible to make the opposing teams job that bit more difficult. Points are scored in a similar way to rugby by entering the end zone for a touchdown worth 6 points or kicking it for a field goal worth 3 points.

All university teams compete in the BUAFL which was founded in 2007 the league being known as the BCAFL prior to this point. The BUAFL is the official league for all student teams to play in. Every season teams will play within their division, with the top teams from each division competing in the play-offs for the chance to reach the national final. The Bullets are UWE’s team and have a long and illustrious history of competing in student leagues. This history stretches all the way back to 1991 and is filled with crushing defeats and staggering wins. The Bullets are a well decorated team with a national title in the 2006-2007 season as well as numerous play-off appearances in the year preceding that. The Bullets have kept this winning tradition alive by reaching the play-offs for the past two years consecutively and are hungry for more success. The Bullets are viewed as one of the top teams and will make any teams trip to Bristol a tough one. The Bullets success is not down to individual great players although there have been many of them, it is down to the unique bond that the bullets have, making them more of a family than a team. This is shown as week after week as players make huge physical sacrifices to help the team win and maintain their reputation as one of the top teams.

This philosophy of being a football family has been passed down over the years and imprinted on every Bullet players mind with the expression “Hold the rope” holding the rope is about doing whatever it takes to help your teammates, making that ultimate sacrifice and putting the team before yourself. This is what makes Bullets the great team that it is today. When asked about his time with the bullets Gareth Rees one of last year’s captains had the following to say:

“Joining the team gave me extensive access to some of the best coaching around, which has helped me develop my skills further than I ever thought possible. I have made so many friends through the team, all of which I cherish as without the team, I wouldn’t have met any of them. They have been brothers to me, and I have been a part of the Bullets family, one of which is the best families to be a part of”.

While the Bullets are deadly serious about their goal of bringing back another national title. It is not all work and no play, the team go out regularly every week and are joined by UWE’s cheerleading squad the Comets. With roughly 50 people on a team plus friends and cheerleaders it makes for one hell of a night out and a lot of hilarious moments to be shared on the long coach trips to away fixtures. I’ve been with the Bullets for two years and it was one of the best decisions I have made at university.

By Ben Taylor