City teens offered the chance to get a taste of Superbowl sport

UEA Pirates head coach, Nigel Hadley, is looking for new recruits for the upcoming American football season.

UEA Pirates head coach, Nigel Hadley, is looking for new recruits for the upcoming American football season. - Credit: Nigel Hadley

Wannabe Tom Bradys are being offered the chance to pack on the pads, buckle up their helmets and head on to the American Football field.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is putting on an open day and teenagers are being invited to stop by and give the sport a go. 

The team, the UEA Pirates, are holding an open day on April 20 and offers the chance to go head-to-head with some of the best players in the country.

Nigel Hadley, head coach of the Pirates, said: "When it first started back in 1987 it was very much a participation sport, so you just rocked up to play.

"Even though is was structured and available there wasn't much practicing going on - but it's come such a long way since then.

UEA Pirates play in the Premier South division, the top tier league, organised by the British University and College Sport.

The UEA Pirates play in the Premier South division, the top tier league, organised by the British University and College Sport (BUCS). - Credit: Nigel Hadley

"Myself and some of the other coaches have changed the culture and taken things to a different level.

"Hand-in-hand with support from the UEA and the Sportspark we now have a lot of very committed players."

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Nigel started out as a positional coach nine years ago, before becoming a coordinator and has acted as head coach for the past three years.

He said: "While we still have a long way to go the players really want to improve their game and be the best they can.

UEA Pirates head coach, Nigel Hadley, said: "We've taken things to a different level."

UEA Pirates head coach, Nigel Hadley, said: "We've taken things to a different level." - Credit: Nigel Hadley

"We have so much more in terms of facilities now - from strength and conditioning, nutrition, physio - everything you'd expect to see available from a big organisation.

"UEA also have a scholarship scheme which can provide enhanced support such as free gym membership."

While the game is still quite niche in the city, the boom of the National Football League (NFL) has increased awareness to the sport.

UEA Pirates head coach, Nigel Hadley, has been with the team for nine years.

UEA Pirates head coach, Nigel Hadley, has been with the team for nine years. - Credit: Nigel Hadley

The 54-year-old coach was also able to pull some strings and got a game with the NFL Academy, which offers student athletes aged 16 to 19 the opportunity to intensive training in the sport, under the guidance of full-time professional coaches.

Nigel added: "I think the NFL as an entity in itself has raised the awareness immensely.

"We're hoping this will encourage more people to participate - all the coaching staff here are very keen to help the students flourish and enjoy the game."