A trainee firefighter with West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) is set to swap her fire helmet for an American Football one, as she prepares to represent Great Britain in the IFAF Women’s World Championships!
Harley Lynch (22), who joined WMFS in August 2021, has only been playing the sport for just over a year.
Now, with her 24-year-old partner and team-mate Sydney, she’s headed for Finland to take on women’s teams from the US, Canada and Mexico, as well as Finland and Sweden.
Harley, from Wednesfield, is a member of Green Watch at Tipton fire station. With five-plus years of playing rugby under her belt, she says she’s loving the different challenges that come into play with ‘gridiron’.
‘It’s been a bit of a mad year!’ said Harley, as she looked back on passing her initial firefighter training and landing ‘the best job in the world’.
‘Sydney and I both play for Birmingham Lions Women American Football team, who’ve been national champs for several years. I’m a Linebacker and she’s a Quarterback.
‘There’s a natural crossover with rugby, which I still enjoy playing. Getting used to the different rules, the set plays and the classroom sessions has been a bit of a steep learning curve – but at least I’m already used to wearing a helmet for work! With GB, I’ll be playing at Defensive Back.’
An invitation to try out for the GB team last September eventually saw Harley chosen for a 70-strong pool of players before being selected to join the travelling squad of around 40.
Confirmation came in May that she’d been selected to represent the British American Football Association’s women’s team at the sport’s international federation’s Women’s World Championships. They take place in Helsinki between 28 July and 8 August.
‘It’s just fantastic to have been selected. Although there are quite a few women’s teams in the Midlands, it’s still a growing sport so we’re working hard to increase its popularity.’
Adjusting to her new shift pattern as a firefighter has come with the added logistics of needing to fit in two weekly Lions training sessions, games on Saturdays and monthly weekend camps with the GB team.
‘I’m really looking forward to travelling to Finland. To win the World Champs we need to beat Mexico, Canada and the US. But if you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat them first!’
Her trip to Helsinki is being financially supported by WMFS’s Sports and Welfare fund.