Ipswich American football team raising cash for title bid
- Credit: Lee Austin
A talented American football team from Ipswich has qualified for the sport's national finals and is raising money for its dream trip to the championship decider.
Lee Austin, 42, the chairman of the Ipswich Cardinals American football team, has organised online fundraising to help his proteges travel to Cambridge on July 31.
Lee said: “We're just trying to raise money to get the whole team there and to make it quite special for the lads who are one of four of the best teams in the country.
“Some of the kids from the junior section are underprivileged children, and we fundraise so the kids can have equipment and be able to play.
“Some of the children have not really had a place to play before in any sports organisation. They come and play with us, and we try to facilitate them and make them part of the Cardinal family .
“We're an unfunded, non-charitable organisation so anything we do happens through fundraising.”
The team’s chairman set a goal of raising £1,500, which will cover the travel, game day costs, equipment and refreshments for the team. They have already raised £1,130.
Lee said: “We’re the only American football team in Suffolk.
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“This year we have done Suffolk Show. It was the first time in our club's history that we managed to get to the show and we had such great feedback from people.
“Our goal is to raise awareness of American football in Suffolk and of us.
"We want to gain new junior and senior players. The achievement to be one of the final four teams in the championship is a stepping stone for us.”
During the finals, Ipswich Cardinals will play against Chester Romans, Northants Knights and North East Academy.
Three years ago, the Ipswich team came third in the national finals and this year hopes to beat that record.
The chairman who fell in love with American football many years ago and started managing Ipswich Cardinals when his oldest son, Keaton, joined the team, said: “The senior team has got a really big history.
“We were national champions in the 90s and but the junior section has only really got kicked off about six or seven years ago and it's really flourishing now.
“We’ve got 30 players on our squad, and so it's really working. A lot of our junior team are feeders, and they end up playing for our senior team.
“We're one of the best in the country with regards to recruiting junior players.”
The team of youths aged 16 to 19 trains every Sunday at Ipswich YM Rugby Club.
No previous experience is necessary to join the team. All levels of athletic ability are welcome as there is a spot on the team for all shapes and sizes.