The Tauranga City Tridents will get kitted up in helmets and shoulder pads this Saturday, with their contact American Football contest finally kicking-off in the Bay of Plenty.
Starting up their club last October, the Tridents began a flag version of the game to quickly get the sport off the ground and gain interest in our region.
And it’s easy to say this budding new club is doing well, with their youth team winning the New Zealand American Football Federation Flag Football Nationals last month.
Club president Alex Hatwell says it has always been the Trident’s ambition to develop a contact programme.
“That’s the main goal when we set it up was to get contact football up and running here.”
And there have been barriers to launching the programme.
“The equipment’s expensive, so to kit out a player would be close to $1000 when you factor in helmets, shoulder pads, padded pants and then chuck a uniform jersey on top of that.”
Luckily, the club received funding from Tu Manawa Active Aotearoa Fund to cover equipment costs a few months ago – now they’re ready to roll.
Alex says the contact version of the sport will appeal to a range of players, of all shapes and sizes. “Someone who might not want to run around a rugby or rugby league field because of the cardio vascular aspect of it can come in and really contribute in a meaningful way to a team by being a lineman…just being a big body stopping people.
“You can also have your 65-75kg punt returner who just has to catch the ball, sprint and try not get drilled by a 100kg defence man.”
This will be Tauranga’s first contact programme of American football in about two decades.
Alex hopes the club can get enough interest to run a local eight-aside competition, before competing in Auckland.
“If everything goes well I’d like to think we could be playing in the Auckland competition next year.
“I think the goal for this season will be just to get people learning the technique, get them into the equipment and teaching them to do it safely.”
“It will be good just to see another sport on the local sporting landscape, something new and different and there’s fans of the game out there so it gives them something they can look at locally.”
If you’re interested to give contact American football a go, the club’s first training is 9am this Saturday, November 5, at Greerton Park. More details are at: