Charyle Mercer hopes her maiden Team GB call-up can inspire other Portsmouth females to take up American Football.
Linebacker Mercer is the star player for the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts women’s team and is set to make her international bow for Great Britain in tonight’s clash with Spain.
The 27-year-old, from Southsea, will pad up at Worcester City Rugby Club’s Sixways Stadium (7pm) for the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) clash after progressing through a series of trials and training camps to join the GB set-up.
And while Mercer is proud of her achievements and the prospect of representing her country, the Dreadnoughts chairperson is now hopeful others can latch on to her success.
She said: ‘It felt amazing to be called up, I was very emotional.
‘In every training camp I went to, every day we sang the national anthem, so to be representing my country means a lot to me.
‘It’s a massive honour and accomplishment – I am absolutely ecstatic and can’t wait to get out there.
‘The hope for me is that other girls or women see I have made the step up and will be motivated to get involved in the game itself.
‘It is massive in the United States but still relatively new over here and continuing to grow.
‘There are a lot of people who do want to play it but maybe don’t realise it is here for them to get involved in.
‘It would be fantastic for more women to join in with the Dreadnoughts.’
Mercer’s involvement with the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts is three-fold – she organises, coaches and plays for the women’s team, while trains with the men’s team, too.
And with competitive action returning next month in the form of both five and seven-a-side flag football matches, Mercer is keen to add new recruits to the roster.
Training sessions take place on Monday and Wednesday’s (6.30pm-8pm at Havant Rugby Club), with no prior experience in the sport required.
Mercer said: ‘We have 20 people down on our roster with what I would consider 10 consistent players.
‘Hopefully, the university students coming back this month will help increase our intake, as we have formed a partnership with them.
‘But we are open to anyone.
‘Players can be completely new to the sport and don’t need to have any experience or kit – just come down and we will go through the basics and take it from there.’
Those successful could be involved in the fast-paced Opal Series, the national championship for flag football, which begins next month – ending in December – and is being hosted in the city.
Full-contact Sapphire Series football then runs from February to April.
Mercer added: ‘We play either five or seven-a-side matches based in the southern region, competing against teams from London and so on.
‘And this year we are hosting the Opal Series for the south, which is not only really convenient but, hopefully, also great news for the city in raising awareness of the sport.’