Big Bowl Ladies Groups
With the excitement of the 11th annual instalment of Europe’s biggest flag football tournament ratcheting up following the reveal of this year’s groups, we wanted to bring you our analysis of every group and predictions for this year’s tournament. While we could write articles on each team, in the interest of time, we’ve decided to focus on what each of our UK compatriots will face while highlighting the top contenders for this year’s title.
The Women’s tournament has expanded this year to 15 teams. The top two from each group will advance to the top bracket along with the next two best third place teams. Loaded with talent and experience, the women’s competition promises to be as wide open as it is fierce, with at least half of the field boasting legitimate title hopes.
NSFFL Ladies (USA)
Warwick Wolverines (UK)
Nottingham Flag Team (UK)
Walldorf Wanderers (Germany)
T2D2 are clearly the class of group A. After consecutive runner-up finishes, the German standard-bearers were unfortunate victims of last year’s thunderstorms. An Austrian victory in their last group game would have seen T2D2 through to the semis but unfortunately, they never had a chance to play as the game was cancelled due to inclement weather. As such, they found themselves in the middle bracket, which they ultimately won en route to fifth.
So who will provide their biggest resistance in Group A? The UK’s first women’s team, Warwick Wolverines, are certainly no pushovers. This may be the swan song for the decorated GB trio of Jen Cooper, Jen Macchia, and Louise Lee but their experience coupled with the help of younger stars Ellie Thorpe and Jodie Harris should guide Warwick into the quarterfinals. Nottingham and Walldorf are both eager teams but may find it difficult keeping up at this level.
The real wildcard of this group is the NSFFL Ladies. The Americans represent the same league as the Mass Flag All Stars. They may be young but could they prove just as dominant on the women’s side as their male counterparts?
Team Mexico (Mexico)
Coventry Cougars (UK)
Foxes 82 (Spain)
Wildcats Tirol (Austria)
Boasting two European National champions and the always feared Mexican national team, Group B certainly is the women’s “Group of Death.” It starts with Mexico, one of the world’s top teams, who followed up a Big Bowl Championship in 2015 with a runner-up finish last year. Their offense resembles a basketball three-man weave at times, constantly moving the ball behind the line of scrimmage amongst different players until a receiver comes open downfield or a clear running lane presents itself. They put up points in a hurry and can stifle even the most potent of attacks.
Our UK base will be familiar with the Coventry Cougars. Led by the Barrett sisters, the Cougars have been the class of the UK Opal series for awhile. Their success stems from tremendous chemistry cultivated by years of playing together, allowing them to flawlessly execute their patented jet-sweeps and reverses that send opponents into a tizzy. They will look to improve upon their impressive 4th place finish last year
In Foxes 82, Group B boasts another European power as the Spanish national champs can play with anyone. Rocío Fuente gives the Foxes an advantage at QB against most teams. They’ve recently introduced a double QB package which should add another dimension to their already potent attack.
Ultimately, the UK’s best hope may ride with the Sirens. What started as a group of ladies who wanted to participate in international tournaments has evolved into an elite group of select players from across the UK. Boasting All American and GB national team talent, the Sirens are looking to establish themselves as an elite force on the European landscape. Unfortunately, they will be without three key players at this tournament. Given they already lag behind the other top teams in the experience department, they might be a year away. However, it’s worth noting that they did lead a certain Mexican national team at half time last year before succumbing late…
Finally – beware the unknown team – especially when they come from a powerhouse flag nation! Honestly, this group could finish any number of ways and will ultimately come down to whoever’s day it happens to be.
Amazing Austrian Amazones (Austria)
Copenhagen Tomahawks (Denmark)
Sheffield Hallam Warriors (UK)
Den Haag Hyenas (Netherlands)
East Kilbride Pirates (UK)
Group C may not be quite as impressive as Group B but it’s close. While Group B features teams that utilise flag rules to mould specialist offenses, Group C features teams that just play good football. Big Bowl champions two of the last three years, the Amazones certainly live up to their “Amazing” moniker. They boast arguably the world’s best female flag quarterback in Saskia Stribrny and are extremely well-drilled.
They will face stiff competition from the Copenhagen Tomahawks who will be looking to avenge last year’s semifinal loss, and Den Haag Hyenas. The Tomahawks do nothing fancy but do everything well with solid contributors up and down their roster. The Hyenas, who come from the same program as a majority of the men’s “Dutch Lions,” run a similar offense to their male counterparts. Expect them to utilise Jarryn Godett on plenty of quick pitches and shovel passes.
While Sheffield Hallam finished an impressive 2nd in the UK last year, the step up in competition may prove too much for Amy Slater and co. to overcome, especially following the loss of Lottie Laidler to the Cougars. They will face off against Alan Young’s EKP squad in what should be a fun match for our UK fans to follow.