Just weeks after the NFL returned to the UK with two regular season games in London, Milton Keynes will host a Canadian rule set to benefit charity.
American football is growing in popularity on this side of the Atlantic, but its lesser-known Canadian counterpart, which features a range of different rules, has yet to grace these shores.
But that will end on Saturday (November 6), as Milton Keynes hosts a fundraising event to benefit the Amelie Fund, which aims to raise funds to support various charitable initiatives in the grassroots British American football world.
The event, sponsored in part by Canadian coffee and donut chain Tim Hortons, which recently confirmed the opening of a second restaurant in Westcroft and named the Slate Cup in honor of the Gray Cup of the Canadian Football League , will be held at the Emerson Valley Sports Pavilion, home of Milton Keynes Rugby Club, from 1pm.
A YouTube stream will also be available of the game, which will see two teams, the Penguins and Grizzlies, compete against each other in the very first example of a Canadian rules game set here in the UK.
American football players from across the UK and Europe are expected to take part in the free event, with the local Ouse Valley Eagles team heavily involved.
The Eagles were born out of a merger between the Milton Keynes Pathfinders and Bedfordshire Blue Raiders ahead of the 2014 BAFA National Leagues season and head coach Nick Benning, who previously played for the Pathfinders, was instrumental in the organization of the event.
Speaking of the event, Benning said, “This event is the brainchild of Mike Ireland, who has been hosting charity football matches and international tours for the past few years.”
“Mike came to me as the head coach of the home side Ouse Valley Eagles because he wanted to host a charity event that had never been done before and wanted it to be in a central location.”
“We were very fortunate that Milton Keynes Rugby Club offered to be our hosts and we hope to make it an annual event.”
He explained: “American football has been played in the UK since the 1980s, but we’ve never had a Canadian ruleset here before.”
“The basic rules are similar, but you have a few adjustments such as 12 players on the pitch for each team and a kicking game closer to rugby.”
“We are really delighted to have players from the best teams in the UK as well as players from Ireland for the event.”
“While there is a competitive element, it will also be light and we encourage everyone watching the game to talk to the players and the coaches.”
He added, “We’ll have some Canadian themed music and have the amazing Auntie Em’s Kitchen offering a Caribbean cooking pitch side.”
“Add to all this that the Rugby Club will have the clubhouse open for hot, cold and alcoholic drinks and rugby on the other grounds.”
He concluded: “It should be a brilliant day, participation is completely free and we would love to invite everyone to join in on a UK premiere!”
For more information, check out the event’s official Facebook page before kick-off on Saturday at 1 p.m.
To learn more about the AmÃ©lie Fund, visit the Gridiron Hub website for more details.