HEAD coach Roger Brown has laid down a huge challenge to his MK Pathfinders team – declaring that he expects them to win promotion this season.
The American football side – who play at Emerson Valley – recently qualified for the play-offs for the second season in as many years, and Brown is determined to see them move up to Division One.
“I’m confident we can get promoted this time,” he said ahead of Pathfinders’ final regular league game of the season this Saturday.
“As it stands, with all the teams that are in the play-offs at the moment, I’d say we have a 60 per cent chance of promotion.”
Pathfinders have been in the British American Football League Division Two East for nearly four years now, and Brown thinks it’s time to move on up the divisions to mix it with some of the country’s best teams. And his demands are a far cry from those set out when he first joined up with the team nearly two and a half years ago.
He said: “When I joined, we were the worst team in the country. My success has been judged by the fact that we’ve made significant progress.
“When we played Colchester a couple of years ago, we lost 86-6. But when we played them recently, we beat them easily by 66-31 – and they were amazed by our turnaround.
“I think our team is more than capable of handling themselves at a higher level. I’d say we would easily beat most of the teams in Division One.”
This Saturday’s home clash against the Bedford Blue Raiders will see Brown rest a lot of his first string as they prepare for the play-offs. But the visitors will be baying for revenge after last weekend’s humiliating 35-0 defeat to Pathfinders on home soil.
“We’re going to rest a few players,” said Brown. “But we’re still going to win the game. “They want revenge for the match on Saturday. On paper, and statistically, they should have beaten us, but the scoreline read 35-0.
“People think American football is just about hard hitting, and a lot of teams employ that tactic and can make it work. But we play clever football and a lot of teams can’t handle that, as is evident by our league position.”
The step up to Division One is a big responsibility for the entire club, not just for the players and management. A lot more administration is required when playing in the second tier of the sport in the UK, but most importantly the development of a youth squad is a must for teams.
Brown added: “The level of the youth game is improving all the time. We have a few kids who are trying out for our youth team and they are beginning to get the hang of the game, throwing and catching the ball and basic tackling.
“The popularity of the sport is growing in this country. In the Premiership, the standard is probably at around the level of Junior Colleges in America, so it’s a good level of competition.
“When I was playing in the late 1980s, there was around 120 teams in the country. Now, there are 70, but the squads are larger, the standard is better and there are 30 youth development teams now too.”
>> Pathfinders are running a unique way of raising sponsorship money for new kit. They are appealing to people to buy raffle tickets at £25 each, with the winner getting a framed shirt as a prize and a page on the website dedicated to their business.
For more information on the raffle, visit the MK Pathfinders website