20×20: Helen Smyth

Next up in our 20×20 series is Trojans flag football player Helen Smyth. Helen started her football career with the UUC Elks before moving to Belfast and joining the Trojans. The current Trojans 1st team captain is also planning on taking up coaching.

What sparked your interest in American football?

“My friend was the coach of the Ulster Elks flag team in my final year of university and until then I didn’t even know American football was a thing. I went along just to see what it was like and didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, and I’ve been playing ever since!”

How did you get involved in your club?

“I joined the Belfast Trojans two years ago. They have regular try out days which I went to and I already knew a couple of people in the club so when I moved to Belfast, it was an easy choice.”

What roles do you currently hold in your club?

“I am the defensive captain of the Trojans 1sts team and I am also on the committee. I was injured at the start of the season so took on more of a coaching/play calling role. I’ve never been so stressed in my life but I actually did enjoy being on the side-lines, so I am planning on doing my level 0 coaching course to get started.”

What is the American football environment like in Ireland?

“There’s a really good balance between the sport being fun and competitive but not too serious. Everyone is really encouraging, and despite a few rivalries, there is good sportsmanship between all the teams.”

What advice would you have for a fellow female interested in getting involved in American football?

“Just go for it! It’s one of the most fun sports I’ve been involved in. There’s such a range of players from people who have played kitted for years to people who have never played a team sport before so there is nothing to be worried about!”