Northern Lights: Role that allows me to focus on the players mental health and wellbeing

New youth American Flag football team in Sheffield vows to make a positive impact to the life of its players!

By Anthony Olaseinde
Friday, 8th April 2022, 8:47 am

Since the day I was unable to play American Football due to a physical illness, I have always wanted to get back involved in the sport. However, the opportunity didn’t arise. That is, until I noticed whilst working with young people through Always An Alternative, that there weren’t many sports that are free, made to engage young people and offer additional support / mentoring.

I had the idea to use American Football to engage young people, giving me the opportunity to get back involved with the sport.

I had a discussion with the head coach of Sheffield Forge, an established American Football team and we decided that we would work together to offer free training and use the love of the sport to engage young people across the city. Our first session was on 28/10/2019 and we have not looked back since.

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New youth American Flag football team in Sheffield.

My Role

My role within the team is the mindset coach, which gives me the opportunity to focus on the players mental health and wellbeing.

It allows me to get to know the players, and how they learn. Enabling us to adjust our delivery and make it bespoke to each player so that they can understand the game, develop their skills and most prominently build confidence inclusively as part of a team.

Additionally, the role allows me to bridge a gap that may occur between parents and players, allowing me to address any issues that the players may be having; for example, being bullied at school or something as simple as they are feeling down and need someone to talk to.

The fundamental part of my role is to develop a positive mindset for the players, one that will not only ensure them to excel on the field but to make positive choices at home and at school.


“My American football journey started at steel City Giants, the first American Football team to be created in Sheffield. I then went on to play for the Cyclones and Saxons. Traveling out of Sheffield I played for the Leeds cougars and Manchester Spartans. My position was strong safety, outside line backer. My job on the field was to put a halt to the run as well as guarding the tight end on passing plays.

Unfortunately, I had to retire due to ongoing injuries to my shoulder and knee, which still cause me issues today.

I used to coach the Sheffield Tomahawk’s youth team achieving two play offs and one wild card, the team’s name was changed to the Sheffield Predators but after a rebrand to the Sheffield Giants I was told that I did not represent their new brand and I decided that it was best to part ways.

We then separated and changed our team’s name to Sheffield forge for the final season, but as our players were ready to go to the adult team we did not recruit again.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of disappoint an unfulfilled promise here we are again providing grass roots American flag football free for Sheffield kids and surrounding areas

I’d like to mention Paul Ledger who was the driving force for Sheffield American Football in early years and the sport would not be where it is now if it was not for him.” - Coach

About the sport

American flag football is a non-contact version of American football. Instead of big hits and hard tackles to the ground, players must pull a flag from the opposition players waist. Each team can have 5 or 7 players and is played on a pitch that is 70 x 30 yards. Games are made up of 2 halves between 15 and 25 minutes depending on the type of game.

The aim of the game is to get more touch downs than the opposition team. Each team will take it in turns to play offence and defence. The offence has the ball and are given 4 downs (attempts) to move the ball 10 yards, if successful, they get another 4 downs until they achieve a touchdown. The defence has to prevent the offence from moving 10 yards in 4 downs and prevent touch downs. It is possible for the defence to score a touchdown if they intercept the ball.

These are just the basics of the game to give you an understanding, if you are interested in finding out more, please get in touch.

Why join us?

Our approach is player centred: we are deeply interested in the development of our players. We accept all children to join in our training no matter their abilities.

We encourage our players to take on the role of a mini mentor to help new players learn the game faster and receive support from their team as well as the coaches: creating a circle of empowerment and positivity.

Other reasons to join our team:

Free training

Build confidence

Make friends

Get fitter

Get stronger

Manage anger

Develop a positive growth mindset

Be a part of a team

Have fun

Have a space to talk

Receive Support and mentoring

The age groups for teams are 7-11, 12-14, 15-17, we are aiming to get a team together for each age range by the end of the summer.

If you would like your child to get involved or if you have any questions, please drop us an email; [email protected]

We would like to say a huge thank you to our sponsors Stay Safe Security, Nicholson & Co Accountancy and Upperthorpe café and the guys down at Nuola for their ongoing support.