A team of young American Football players are preparing to journey south this weekend to take on the best in the sport as they battle to become the UK Brit Bowl champions.
With their shoulder pads and helmets they look perhaps more at home in Hollywood than the Highlands… but the Wildcats are flying high in the sport.
Based in Inverness, the Highland Wildcats are undefeated this season, and say their community spirit plays a big part in their success.
Head coach Robbie Paulin says “ We are down to the final – we are seeded 4th and we play the 5th based team in the first round, but because the conferences are so different and varied we don’t know the levels of the different teams so sometimes these things just don’t matter.”
“We had East Kilbride as the 8th seed in 2018 and they went on to win it – so you can never really tell.”
This weekend the Under 17s team will head to Cambridge to compete in the Brit Bowl, the sport’s UK Championships.
The team’s been running for twenty three years and have firmly established themselves as fixtures in the sport in Scotland, and have won the Brit Bowl three times before.
As well as a strong team spirit, they pride themselves on supporting and empowering young people.
Wide receiver Coach Euan Trommino says “I have been playing for about 7 or 8 years now it was actually my mum who pushed me to do it, she heard good things about the club and how it’s accepting of all people and it’s got a really good culture.”
“I almost quit in my first couple of practices but I pushed through and it’s one of the best decision I continue to commit to.”
He added “Initially it’s terrifying, theres a lot of rules and it’s quite a learning curve. It was in my second year I fully understood what was going on.”
“I am not the biggest guy myself but I have come to figure out what my strengths and weaknesses are; I am very agile, I am fast, I have got good awareness and I can utilise that on the field.”
Robbie says “The effort from players and staff has been outstanding, putting in extra time outside of practice and that’s what’s been the key – I think that’s all going to add up on the day to give us our best shot of winning it.”
As they prepare to take on the cream of young UK gridiron football, the Wildcats hope their Highland grit will stand them in good stead to bring the silverware home once more.