HAVE you ever been told you are too small for football? Or too skinny for rugby perhaps?
Well, your sporting niche might just be staring right back at you.
Because American football is a sport for all shapes, sizes and abilities, according to Steve Whitter, the manager of Doncaster’s blossoming gridiron academy.
Doncaster Mustangs Academy has introduced the combative sport to more than 200 youngsters since its formation in 2010.
And following a very impressive start on the field, which has seen Doncaster’s youngest team reach the British finals in two of its first three years, the academy is now going from strength to strength.
The development of a youth programme to dovetail with the Mustangs’ ever-improving senior side is a big deal, Whitter told the Free Press this week.
But, contrary to what you might think, you do not have to be massive, or muscle-bound, to touch down with one of Doncaster’s fastest-growing sports.
“The big selling point for us is that American football unites children, regardless of their size,” said Whitter.
“A lot of children are put off football and rugby because they feel they have to be of a certain shape and fitness.
“But with American football it’s a case of any size fits all.
“The kids in our academy love the impact side of the sport. They love the big hits and that side of it.
“But this is a sport that will teach young people how to perform a role as part of a team. It gives them discipline.
“And rather than isolate children, with respect to their size, it doesn’t matter if you’re big or small - we’ll welcome you into the American football family.”
The history of Mustangs’ youth academy may be short, but it hasn’t half been eventful.
Since splitting from Balby Carr Sports College and then Doncaster Rovers, the academy is now an independent sports club designed to educate and introduce youngsters into the world of American football.
With two separate youth programs for teenagers aged 14-16 and 16-19, there is now a clear pathway for beginners to aspire to reach Mustangs’ bruising British American Football League (BAFL) senior side.
And it’s going well, according to Whitter. So much so that two members of the youth squad have already represented Great Britain’s juniors.
There’s also additional plans on the table to develop an under 14 section, which would introduce newcomers to the sport by way of a ‘touch rugby’ style version of the game, and also a new girls team.
“The development of the team over the past few years has been exceptional,” said Whitter.
“The introduction of the junior program is the natural progression route, allowing youngsters from Doncaster the opportunity to mature even more into the game of American football.
“We’re working towards a successful model that is already in place in Cornwall.
“It’s hard work, but we really want to give kids in Doncaster an opportunity to come along and try something new.”
He added: “One of the proudest moments in the club’s short history was watching Jack Calver and Sam Eyre walk out in Italy in the autumn to represent Great Britain’s junior team.
“They played against Serbia and also Italy in the European Championship qualifiers and they are shining examples of what can be achieved.
“Jack has been with us for a few years, while Sam came to us two years ago and is a massive talent - I expect him to be a Lineman for Great Britain in years to come.”
The Mustangs Academy, who begin their league season in two month’s time, train at Balby Carr Sports College every Saturday (10am-1pm).
Anyone interested in joining can email Steve on: firstname.lastname@example.org.