We’re applying for funding to subsidise the cost of our annual two-day residential American Football training camp event for junior players aged 16-19, to be held at Strathallan School in Perth in March. We aim to have around 50 attendees.
Why have a camp?
The camp is designed to help us prepare for the competitive season ahead. It appeals to young people, who see their favourite NFL teams hold similar events via tv series Hard Knocks and social media.
But our residential camp is about much more than just sport. It's also focused on helping players bond as a team, develop as young adults and is a way of tackling other issues that can impact on their ability to live well for longer. At similar events we’ve held sessions on team building, male metal health and wellbeing, including raising the difficult subjects of depression and suicide and offering practical advice and guidance to help participants support themselves and others.
Camp helps us reinforce that our club offers a strong support network - as we have a strong emphasis on the 'family' provided by American Football. Our players also spend time sharing their thoughts on what the club means to them, and their goals for the future.
Why do we need funding?
Many of our young players and our volunteers come from areas in South Lanarkshire and the surrounding districts that have high rates of unemployment and deprivation including Hamilton, Motherwell and Glasgow City. American Football is an expensive sport to participate in due to the equipment required, but as a non-traditional sport with positions for all shapes and sizes, it offers a unique appeal to young people – especially those who may have not been successful in more traditional sports. Thanks to support and funding from The National Lottery Community Fund we are able to provide full kit on loan to all our young players, fully removing that barrier to entry.
However, there are still other financial barriers to enjoying everything we can offer as a club. Funding from Aviva will enable young people to attend our planned residential camp with fewer barriers to participation – allowing them to improve their engagement with sport and activity, build their confidence as individuals, understand the benefits of being part of a team and reinforce good habits and personal discipline.
What will we do with the money?
We plan to use part of the funding to provide a bus to take the players as a single group to and from the venue to pick up points in South Lanarkshire. We know from holding similar events, that many players may be unable to attend if there was no team transport. This feedback has also been given to us by parents too. Not providing team transport has a huge impact on the ability to attend an event when it’s outside of the local area as parents can struggle to drive their players to the venue due to financial constraints, child care or work commitments.
We would plan to use the balance of the funding to provide a free places to any participants within our club who may have financial barriers to attending, and reduce the cost of the event for everyone, which includes overnight accommodation and all meals plus facility hire, from £75 per player to £60. We plan to further reduce the cost of the event through team fundraising, for example, bag packing and sponsored events.
On the field our junior team has been hugely successful – we’ve been back-to-back Scottish Champions for the last four years, as well as qualifying for three Under 19 British championship finals in four years. Our residential camp plays a big part in this success, but equally important for us is our success when it comes to inspiring and supporting our players to maximise their potential in their lives, not just in sport. We want to help our players learn skills which will benefit them and their life chances long after they hang up their helmets – our camp plays a big part in this, and we want to make sure it’s open to everyone who wants to attend, regardless of background.
What our players have told us
We regularly survey our young players and involve them in planning and decision making through a player leadership group. After our last event, 100% of our players told us they want another event. They also told us how much events like this mean to them.
“It's great to give as many people possible these kinds of opportunities. For some people, camp could help them to get to know the team and stick to the sport where they can build great relationships.”
“Funding is a great way to help players who can’t afford to pay a lot of money towards camp and lets everybody have a chance to be involved.”
“I think the most important thing is ensuring that no one misses out.”
“Camp is so important to me. It allows me to train hard but more importantly this team is filled with guys I’d say are closer to brothers and it means so much.”
Find out more about what American Football means to our players in the video produced in conjunction with BBC Scotland's The Social about American Football in Scotland
You can also hear how our players view our club as a family in a video made by BBC Sport Scotland ahead of our 2019 National Championship appearance.