Invergordon club's success helping grow American football in Highlands
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Highland Stags general manager Tom Hutchison believes American football is on an upward trajectory in the region – with recognition of the Stags in particular growing all the time.
The club, who play their home matches at Ross Sutherland Rugby Club’s ground in Invergordon, are in their first season as a fully-fledged member of the British American Football Association (BAFA).
They have been around for years, though, as an outlet for adults to play the sport.
Things went to the next level last year when, as an associate member essentially auditioning for their spot with the association, the Stags won the Saltire Division made up of Scottish clubs.
As with most other sports, success breeds interest, and Hutchison has seen an uptick in awareness and support of the club after recent developments.
That, he hopes, in turn will lead to new opportunities to push the club forward in the near future.
“I have a vision of where we want to be – we’re not quite there yet, but we’ll get there,” Hutchison said.
“I’ve been involved in American Football since 1999, and I’ve noticed more and more people in general are recognising American Football.
“This year, starting off well, we’re getting more people coming to watch than we had done previously.
“We’re becoming more recognisable in the community – I wear my hoodie quite regularly, and I’m quite often stopped and asked about it, or by people who have seen our scores.
“We’re not connected to the Highland Wildcats. I played for them in my youth, so I know them very well and they have done fantastically well in publicising the game. For the first few years, people knew who the Wildcats were but they didn’t really know who we were.
“They didn’t recognise us, or they thought we were all the same thing, but we’re a separate team. There is no direct link as such, but more people are coming along and more people are recognising the team.
“That’s helping with sponsors as well. It’s not a cheap game to play – our travel down to Dumfries was well over £1000 for one game.
“It does cost money, so having sponsors there really helps. We’re in the process of agreeing a sponsor for our uniforms, so we’ll be getting new uniforms. I’m hoping that will be confirmed in the next week or two.”