Three University Stirling students have been selected for a European All Stars American Football Team to compete at a major tournament in San Antonio, Texas.
Matt Barrington, Grant Isdale and Kenny Mackay, who play for the University’s Clansmen AFC, caught the eye of top NFL coaches during the Football University (FBU) UK training camp at the weekend.
The trio, part of the Scottish Universities Championship winning side, were chosen from more than 120 young players attending the training camp held at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.
They will now have the honour of competing for Europe at the Alamodome in San Antonio next year, lining up against their counterparts from the USA, Canada, Japan and Mexico. The tournament is part of a week of major events at the Texas venue building up to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Sports Studies student Mackay, a quarterback with the Clansmen, expressed his delight at being selected. “It’s a dream come true,” said the 21-year-old. “It’s something to look forward to and I never thought I’d have the chance to play in front of 40,000 people. It was an amazing weekend to actually be taught by NFL standard coaches here in Scotland.”
The training camp was one of 38 FBU events throughout 2012 for players aged 14 to 29 and the only camp held outside North America.
Larry Zierlein, offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers when they triumphed in the 2008 Super Bowl, was one of five FBU coaches putting the British players through their paces and was impressed with the talent on display.
He said: “The thing I noticed was the attention to detail every one of the players showed and how keen they were to learn and improve. I really enjoyed their enthusiasm and to have that heart is very important.”
Following a clinic for coaches on Friday, the players attended a sports psychology presentation before a weekend packed with on-field drills and technical training.
Steve Quinn, FBU International Recruitment Director, added: “It’s two days of intense training, working on fundamental skills and filming each drill so the players could pick up on what they need to improve on. FBU is now a global brand and we recognise that there is a real interest and passion here in Scotland and across Europe for American Football so we aim to give players the platform to take their game to the next level.”
Stirling was selected as the host venue for the UK camp thanks to Rob Orr, Head Coach of the University’s Clansmen AFC. It is the second time FBU has held a training camp at Stirling, following a highly successful visit in 2011 which featured Sky Sports American Football analyst Cecil Martin.
Orr recently led his charges to their sixth Scottish Universities title since 2000, guaranteeing a place in the top tier of the British Universities American Football League (BUAFL) next season.
He said: “It’s a reflection on the American Football programme at the University and on the sporting status of Stirling that FBU chose to return here and hold their only camp in Europe. There is a lot of footballing talent here and it was great to see Stirling players selected for the All Stars team.”