11:00 am July 13, 2022
A talented American football team from Ipswich have qualified for the sport’s national final and are raising funds for their dream trip to the championship decider.
Lee Austin, 42, chairman of the Ipswich Cardinals football team, organized fundraising online to help his proteges get to Cambridge on July 31.
Lee said, “We’re just trying to raise money to get the whole team there and make it pretty special for the guys who are one of the top four teams in the country.
“Some of the kids in the junior section are underprivileged kids, and we’re raising money so the kids can have equipment and be able to play.
“Some of the kids haven’t really had a place to play before in a sports organization. They come and play with us, and we try to facilitate them and integrate them into the Cardinal family.
“We are an unfunded, non-charitable organization so everything we do is fundraising.”
The team chairman has set himself the goal of raising £1,500, which will cover travel, matchday costs, equipment and refreshments for the team. They have already raised £1,130.
Lee said: “We are the only American football team in Suffolk.
“This year we did the Suffolk Show. It was the first time in the history of our club that we managed to attend the show and we had such good feedback from people.
“Our goal is to bring American football to Suffolk and to us.
“We want to win new junior and senior players. Being one of the last four teams in the championship is a stepping stone for us.”
In the final, the Ipswich Cardinals will face Chester Romans, Northants Knights and North East Academy.
Three years ago the Ipswich side finished third in the national final and this year hopes to break that record.
The chairman who fell in love with American football many years ago and started managing the Ipswich Cardinals when his eldest son Keaton joined the team, said: ‘The senior team has a very big story.
“We were national champions in the 90s, but the junior section only really started six or seven years ago and it’s really flourishing now.
“We have 30 players in our squad, so it’s really working. A large part of our junior team is feeder and ends up playing for our senior team.
“We are one of the best in the country when it comes to recruiting junior players.
The youth team aged 16-19 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 place on the team for all shapes and sizes.