American football may still be a niche sport in this country, but its popularity is increasing very quickly, with annual NFL matches being held at our very own Wembley Stadium. As a result, participation in this most American of sports is rising just as rapidly. A fine example of this increased popularity is Jack Stodel, GB Lions under-19s American football player and member of the Everyone Active Sporting Champions scheme.
With the Superbowl imminent, we spoke to Jack about what it was that inspired him to get into American Football, his training regime and how the sport is progressing in the UK.
Media Inspiration to try American Football
Jack first became interested in the sport thanks to the increased media coverage it has enjoyed in recent years and, indeed, the first game he saw was via a Snapchat story. According to Jack, it was the “big hits, intricate passing and amazing catches” that helped make it the right sport for him.
Big Hopes for American Football in the UK
He predicts that American Football could well become one of the most popular sports in the country, although he admits it could never replace football as the national sport. However, he’s certain that the standard of the sport in the UK can be improved immeasurably and that the only way is up.
Who is Jack’s American Football Idol?
New York Giants’ wide receiver – which is also Jack’s position – Odell Beckham Jr. is Jack’s sporting idol. According to Jack, “it’s almost magical watching him play. What he’s been able to do, no other wide receiver in history has been able to do that and it’s amazing to watch his career progress.”
Training for American Football
In a typical training week, Jack will usually focus on upper body strength, as opposed to leg strength. Jack tells us: “In American football, the upper body is a massive part of everything you do. From blocking your opponents, to catching the ball in all sorts of different ways.” It’s all about power, he says, most of which comes from the upper body.
Naturally, his training regimen isn’t consigned purely to the upper body, but he’ll generally only spend about one day a week on them, helping to build explosive power for quick off-the-line acceleration and agility.
What are his Proudest Sporting Moments?
Jack’s proudest sporting moment of his career so far was the first time he stepped out onto the field to play for his country. He told us: “When you’re standing there, with the national anthem playing, you feel like you’re part of something that is a lot bigger than yourself. It’s a really humbling feeling.”
He’s also incredibly proud of how far American football has come in terms of popularity and how quickly that has been achieved. Indeed, it’s Jack’s biggest aspiration in life to raise the profile of the sport in this country as much as possible and get it to the point where athletes can make a living from playing American football in the UK.
How can People get Involved with American Football?
If you want to give American football a try, Jack says it’s easy. Just head down to your local club as soon as you can. According to him it’s “a fantastic opportunity and something you’ll be proud to be a part of. The scope of the game right now is changing and the competition is as fierce as ever. No matter what team you join, you will be needed and you will be part of a community that is far beyond yourself.”