The UK Dukes are Flying the Flag!
The UK Dukes are Flying the Flag
Flag Football is growing exponentially as a popular version of the sport. It’s fast and energetic and focuses on the pass, as the primary way to make gains and score points. If your football radar is finely tuned you may have picked up on an exhibition game that was played last year in the US between “Team Vick” and “Team Owens”, yeah, that’s Mike and Terrell, both legends of the NFL. This event was part of the groundwork for the AFFL (American Flag Football League) which was formed in May 2017 by sports entrepreneur Jeff Lewis. It’s a professional league, and it’s first full season of competitive play gets underway this year. The structure will include eight franchises featuring both veteran professional players and younger athletes looking to make a name for themselves. The NFL are being supportive of the venture, and some games are being screened live on the NFL Network and also on the AFFL website and YouTube channel.
As part of their inaugural season the league are also running a tournament, “The Flag Football US Open” where amateur players will get the chance to face off against some legendary pro players for the chance to win up to $1,000,000 in prize money. There will be 128 amateur teams involved who will be battling it out in a series of regional events, starting on June 20, to win the chance to progress to the “prize money” rounds. There will also be four pro teams who will have their own eliminators, the top amateur team will then play the top pro team in the Ultimate Final, which is scheduled for July 19th, and will be played in Houston. The overall winners will bag a cool $1,000,000 prize!
All that said, I hear you asking, how do the UK Dukes (Europe’s foremost proponents of all things related to making spectacular catches with a football) fit in? Well, they have been approached by the AFFL to form a European Flag All-Stars team to take part, and will be flying out to New York on May 11th to compete in two games against some legendary pro players. Are they excited? You bet! The Dukes main man, Kenny Bello had this to say, “It’s not every day you get the chance to compete for a million dollars against NFL and Olympic legends (Michael Johnson is a team captain). The initial email from AFFL organisers was totally unexpected – they asked if we wanted to put a UK Dukes team together for the tournament. We could have our pick of any flag players in Europe (that’s a DEEP talent pool) to essentially create a European All-Star team! It has not been an easy task, selecting the final squad but I think we have the talent to compete with any team. I can’t wait to get out there and play, and I know the team is as eager! We hope Europe is behind us as we take on the Americans at their game”.
The Dukes roster will comprise of the following players, Brits Kenny Bello, Phoebe Schecter, Gary Elliott, Michael Bradley Banksi, Austin Greenlee and Vince Machi. They’ll be joined by Silas Meyer Juhlin, Jakob Mikael Esperen, Jonas Bo Hansen and Niklas Dyrby Johansen from Denmark, along with German stand-outs Benjamin Klever and Fabian Achenbach. They will be taking on some top athletes, but I think they can surprise people, given their familiarity with the nuances of Flag Football that comes from playing at an elite level.
To ensure your complete understanding and better enjoyment of the games, I’ve put together a summary of the rules that will apply for the AFFL Open as follows.
* 7-on-7, with 12 man roster
* 60 Minute Game
* Clock will run except for the final 2 minutes of the first half and final 5 minutes of the game
* Field will be divided into four 25-yard boxes, and first downs are awarded each time the offense reaches the next box
* No blocking, no kicking, no fumbles
* Only 1 lateral allowed per play * Incidental contact is permitted
* Once the ball is snapped, the Defence has to wait 2 seconds to rush and the QB will have a total of 4 seconds to release the ball or cross the line of scrimmage
* The QB cannot run unless rushed
* All players are eligible downfield
* North/South handoffs are not allowed but pitches and handoffs to runners running East/West are permitted
* The Defence can blitz 3 times per quarter without waiting for 2 seconds
* 6 pts per TD under 50 yards, 7pts for TDs over 50 yards
* Teams will have option based on distance to convert PATs of 1, 2 or 3 points
* Most penalties will not award yardage, but rather a free play or loss of down
* Ball will generally go into play at the spot of the foul or the previous spot
* Single Elimination Tournament
* Any player on a losing team can be picked up as a Free Agent as long as he/she did not play the acquiring team
* Max of 12 players. There is no limit to the amount of coaches per team, however each coach needs to be registered by the team captain. Only registered coaches can be on the team's side-line during play. Got it? OK let’s get behind your European team.
The games should be screened/streamed live, check the Dukes Facebook page for details.