This year Brum’s five times national champions will be up against also five times national champions, the Hertfordshire Hurricanes. Both teams have a raft of experience and with GB players on both sides it’s bound to be one of the best XpLosIONs yet! To preview the game we enlisted the help of the BURN FM Sports team to conduct interviews with the key coaches and players.
Firstly we chatted to Lions’ Head Coach Greg Freeman to ask how he was feeling for the game;
“We look good, the first team played very well in one of our pre-season games against Bristol Filton and I’m very confident about the weekend. I think we’re a better team than last year, we have a lot of people returning which is always a positive, but we’ve also had a very good intake of new players to the programme.”
The Lions are also fortunate to have some players who have made appearances for the GB national team, but Coach Freeman was keen to express how American Football is a team game. “Clearly having good players makes you more likely to win football games. But it is more about the sum of your parts rather than the individuals in this sport.”
We then turned to the opposition, the Hertfordshire Hurricanes, and asked why playing them makes XpLosION extra spicy this year. “The rivalry against Herts is the biggest in UK University football. They’ve won five championships, we’ve won five championships and it’s the two best teams in the country historically.
“Last year our record against them was 1-1, we went to there place and let ourselves down, but we were able to rectify it after Christmas when they came here and we beat them convincingly.”
“XpLosION is the best advert for student American football you will get in the United Kingdom”
– Club President, Tom Henley
Winning has always been important for the Lions, but as has their off field brotherhood, we quickly asked Coach Freeman about their #morethanfootball campaign. “Clearly we want to win. But we also want to do more than that. People come to this Uni to get a good education and to leave a better person than when they arrived. We want to be part of that process. Each year it is important to set up the best group of graduates that we can and want them to create bonds with each other that will last a lifetime. We want the best men at these boys weddings to be Lions, we want all their guests to be Lions. We want them to win football matches, yes, but we want them to leave better people because they were part of this programme.”
Finally before we left, we asked what he thought the Lions’ chance were this weekend. “Playing in XpLosION is about controlling your emotions, playing infront of 3,000 people is very different to a normal game! The team have prepared well and after last year they understand the experience and how to execute well in front of this many people. It’ll be a tough game, but I’m very confident.”
We then spoke to Club President, Tom Henley; GB International, Fisayo (Fizz) Olokoya and Offensive Captain Ben Thomas about the weekend.
“Our pre-season has been good this year so I’m just excited to get on the field,” Tom said. “We’ve been really impressed with some of our new players and want to embrace the cool experience that XpLosION is; the best advert for student football you will get in the United Kingdom and this will be the biggest and most passionate yet.”
“Last year I let the opposition control how I felt,” added Fizz. “This year I’m excited to go out and enjoy the whole experience.”
“Despite this being my fourth XpLosION, I’m excited as ever,” said Masters student, Ben Thomas. “It’s the first game of the season against our oldest rivals. We’re totally prepared and ready to get going!”
To watch extended versions of these interviews find them here and if you can’t make it down on Saturday be sure to tune in to the live stream being produced by onside sport productions.
Digbeth Dining Club will also be coming down to provide the food and there will also be performances from the Birmingham Pussycats Cheer squad, BUDS dance society and for the first time the University of Birmingham music society’s brass band!