Sport

Deniel punts for a life in American football

Deniel Buckel has been selected to play for the FBU All Europe Select Team after trialling for them in May, and is hoping that the national team is next.

A teenager from Accrington is waiting for his GB call-up after making it on to Europe’s American Football team.

Deniel Buckel has been selected to play for the FBU All Europe Select Team after trialling for them in May, and is hoping that the national team is next.

Buckel, 19, who plays in the defensive line, picked up the sport only two years ago, despite having had a fascination with it since childhood.

He attended his first game at the age of seven and there began his support of the Washington Redskins.

Having come from a sporting family – his grandfather a black belt in karate, one uncle a weightlifter and the other a long distance runner – sport was always a likely option. And with American blood coming from his mother’s side of the family, it’s not surprising that American football was the chosen passion.

“I’d watched it on TV and I’d always wanted to play it,” said Buckel.

“And once I started a whole new world opened up to me. The sport is everywhere really, you just need to look for it.”

The teenager started out playing with the Burnley Tornados on a small five-a-side team, but soon found himself moving up to a full 11-man side with the Lancashire Wolverines. He made it to the National Finals against the London Blitz, but the northern side was defeated by the Londoners, who have claimed the BritBowl champions title five times since 2007.

After his time in Lancashire Buckel decided to move on to a higher level, earning acceptance to an American Football academy in Bristol, and he now plays with the Bristol Aztecs.

He trialled for the British team two months ago and is confident of earning a place. Having found out that he had been selected to play for Europe just two weeks ago, he will travel to America in December with that team to face clubs from the US, Mexico, Japan and Canada on the field.

The next step up for Buckel would be to play the game at college level on a scholarship in America, which is his dream, though he isn’t banking on a career in the NFL quite yet.

“Right now it’s a way of getting me through my education,” he said. “I know I’d be up against guys who are just as athletic as me but who have been training since the age of seven. I’m hopeful though, and I’ll train as hard as I can. So if I don’t make it, it won’t be because I didn’t do my best.”

Buckel is currently searching for around £1,000 in order to pay for his trip to the United States. Anyone interested in supporting him should contact him on buckel.d.j.pride@gmail.com or his father David on davidbuckel_47@yahoo.co.uk