A former NFL star and Sky Sports American football pundit has touched down in Leeds to inspire the city’s young players.
Cecil Martin, who played full-back for the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, stopped by at West Leeds Rugby Union Football Club, in Wortley, to put on a special one-day training camp yesterday.
The 38-year-old gave young players from the Leeds Bobcats American football team, which plays at the west Leeds club, a testing day on the turf.
Martin was in Leeds to attend the British American Football Association’s university finals at the John Charles Centre for Sport, in Beeston, on Saturday.
He told the YEP: “It’s great. I don’t know if American football is flourishing here but you have got a group of committed coaches and young men that are enthusiastic about getting better at the sport.
“All I’m trying to do is support them in all the hard work they’re trying to do to grow the sport.
“It’s a little thing that hopefully makes a big difference.”
Around 30 players aged over 14 attended the four-hour training camp, which saw Martin instigate stretching and warm-up exercises before full-scale drills and competition.
Paul Goodward, head coach of Leeds Bobcats, which was set up in 2009, said: “It’s an honour to have an NCAA star and NFL star to actually pay attention and give something back to us.
“It’s fantastic. He’s had a word with the under-10 kids teams at the rugby club as well.”
Leeds Bobcats’ 16 to 19s side are the current BAFANL northern champions. The club has grown in recent years and now has a 14 to 17s side in the pipeline and a senior squad of players aged over 19.
Mr Goodward added: “It’s exciting times for American football in Leeds. With us being champions we are trying to bring something back.”
The club, which currently has around 60 players and staff regularly involved, will play a double-header of games at West Leeds RUFC, which is open to all, on May 25.
For further information visit www.leedsbobcats.co.uk or see @leedsbobcats on Twitter.