Chichester Uni Cougars the next cubs in British Student Footy
Wednesday, March 03 2010 @ 02:43 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
The small town of Chichester, with a population of just over 20,000, is home to one of Britain's newest universities - the University of Chichester only being founded in 2005. The town is also home to one of Britain's newer university Australian football clubs, with the Chichester Cougars kicking off proceedings late last year.
Since being founded by members of the nearby Southampton Titans, the Cougars have played matches against Chippenham, Portsmouth and Birmingham Uni, recently breaking through for their first win.
Cougars founder Martyn Hinchey spoke to WFN about his club.
Hinchey started playing two years ago, after a fellow student encouraged him to have a run with the Southampton Titans. "A friend of mine, Mark Todd, who has now left university, attempted to set up a team at Chichester but didn't get much interest. However, I enjoyed the taster sessions he did, and so began playing for Southampton with him."
"At the beginning of the next university year together we established Chichester Cougars. Mark and I both played for the England team which won the EU Cup in Prague in 2008 and then again in Croatia in 2009."
The Cougars have around fifteen regular players, with Hinchey saying they get around twelve to training 'on a good day'. "All of our players started playing Aussie Rules at university with the Cougars and about five or six now play for other teams over the summer." Of the squad, all bar a few Welshmen are English born-and-bred.
In addition to Hinchey and Todd, Ali McKinnell became the third Chichester Uni player to be selected for the Dragonslayers, playing at the 2009 EU Cup.
Regarding their plans for 2010, Hinchey says the Cougars won't be able to join the Southern League on a full-time basis as a large proportion of the team live away from university during summer. Instead, they're aiming to just get as many people involved as possible, and put them in touch with clubs closer to their home towns.
However, there has been interest from other university clubs for friendly matches, including Oxford and Cambridge. A planned match against the nearby Brighton Black Swans fell through when the club folded due to lack of numbers before the match could be played.
The Cougars played one match against Chippenham Redbacks in their first season, losing in terrible weather conditions. In October 2009 they played the Portsmouth Pirates, again losing narrowly after Hinchey was forced to go to hospital with concussion at half time.
However, they have since broken through for their first win, defeating the Birmingham Uni Sharks. "Last saturday we played and beat Birmingham Uni in a closely-fought game. In the first half there was never more than twenty points separating us. Then in the second half we stepped up the pressure and won by a fairly comfortable margin in the end."
The Cougars can be contacted via their Facebook group.