St Ivo Academy Crowned National NFL Flag Football Champions

On Wednesday 28th June, three schools from Huntingdonshire headed to the NFL UK Flag Football National Finals for a chance to become 2023 National Champions.

Following their success at the Huntingdonshire regional tournament, Houghton Primary School, St Ivo Academy and Winhills Academy travelled to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to play the best schools from England, Scotland and Wales.

Houghton and Winhills were 2 of 12 schools in the Year 5/6 category and St Ivo Academy 1 of 8 schools in the Year 7/8 category.

The schools were initially split into equal pools with the primary schools playing two group games with the secondary schools playing three. The standard of the opposition was a step up from the regional qualifying round and the skills on show were exceptional.

Winhills started against Ysgol Gwynedd from North Wales, followed by playing Northbury from London West. Both games were close encounters, unfortunately with Winhills finishing with two defeats and progressing through to a seeding match.

Houghton followed in similar fashion with two extremely tight matches that could have gone either way, finishing the pool stage with one win and one defeat against Glen Urguhart from Inverness & Highlands and Angram Bank from Sheffield respectively. This put Houghton through to the quarter finals were they faced off against the eventual finalists Windlesham House from Sussex. The match finish 6-6 in normal time, resulting in a 1 point play shootout. With both teams showing understandable nerves for their first two attempts the shoot-out remained 0-0. With the third attempt Windlesham successful scored, knocking out Houghton in what was probably one of the most exciting matches of the tournament!

In the secondary event, early signs of nervousness from the students didn’t reflect the score board as St Ivo stormed to wins over Cranford House, Oxfordshire (16-6), Wrenn School, Northamptonshire (20-0) and St Anne’s, Manchester (18-0). The three victories provided the St Ivo students with confidence as they headed into the semi-final against Longfield, Leicestershire, coming out as 24-0 winners.

Onto the Final against Warden Park from Sussex. Warden Park starting on offence and showed their intent to the run the ball. However, the St Ivo defence proved to be more than up to the challenge. In position of the ball St Ivo were unstoppable! Both their throw and run plays proved to be effective, alongside individual brilliance, scoring exciting touchdowns to the delight of the spectators.

The final finished 22-6 with St Ivo Academy crowned the first ever Secondary NFL Flag Football National Champions! They will now have the opportunity to be flag bearers at one of the NFL London games in October 2023.

Doug Finlayson, Hunts SSP Manager said; “It was an exciting end to the NFL Flag Football primary school season. With 3 out of 20 schools from Huntingdonshire I think that speak volumes about the hard work that has been put into growing the game within the district and the excitement to get involved from our schools. This has been a once in a lifetime opportunity for the children and I hope today’s success story will inspire further children and schools to take up the sport as we prepare for the 2023-24 calendar of opportunities.”