Touchdown!

We chat to Josh Vines, Captain of the UK’s international American Football Team and member of Oddfellows Coventry Godiva District.

Above: Josh (centre in red) playing for the University of Birmingham Lions delivering a big hit on the Hertfordshire Hurricanes running back.

Josh first got into American Football in his second year at the University of Birmingham. From there, he played for the Birmingham Lions, one of the most successful college teams in the country. For six years he juggled sports with studies during his undergraduate, masters and PhD qualifications researching solid state hydrogen storage.

“It was a friend from back home in Telford who encouraged me to give it a go,” Josh explained. “He’d already been playing for a couple of years and knew I’d love it – and I did."

In American Football each 11-man team has a number of ‘phases’ to either score or surrender possession. The aim of the game is to score more points than the other team by crossing the goal line and getting the ball into an area called the ‘end zone’.

“The main difference between rugby and American Football is it’s much more violent,” joked Josh. “While in rugby only the ball carrier can be hit, on the American Football field every player is ‘live’ meaning there’s almost always a collision."

And Josh's position on the defensive line is a particularly bloodthirsty one. "It's my job to physically dominate the other team, tackle the running back and generally cause havoc! It's a really important position that requires brain and brawn to have a direct influence and impact on every play," he added.

Right: (R-L) Josh with Alasdair Jarvis, the friend from home who got him into American Football, and who also made the GB squad!

The popularity of American Football in the UK is growing year on year with some universities now offering scholarships to overseas players from Europe and the US. What’s more, America’s National Football League (NFL) now hosts three popular seasonal fixtures in the UK proving the emerging force of the British fan base.

In his role as Captain of the GB Lions, the UK’s international American Football team, Josh has had some amazing experiences both off the field and on it: “I’ve been involved with the GB programmes since 2012 and I never thought it possible that one day I would be named as captain – it was an incredible honour and something I will never forget.”

Last year he led the Lions to a thrilling victory over the Czech Republic, winning the opportunity to play Sweden for the final spot in the Group A Championships due to be scheduled this year.

And as for the future? “I’m not too sure at the minute,” said Josh, “keeping up with the level of training required to fly around the field at the top of my game is very challenging while also holding down a full-time job.

“For now I plan to see where the sport can take me!”

The Oddfellows welcomes everyone, from all walks of life and ages. Our 136 Branches nationwide hold regular get-togethers such as talks, walks, lunches and coffee mornings to help our members have fun, stay active and make friends.

Find your local Branch: call us on 0800 028 1810.