The Algarve’s only American Football team, the Algarve Pirates, travelled to Lisbon last weekend to play the current league champion ‘Lisbon Navigators’ in the 4th match of the season, at the University Sports ground.
With the Pirate’s recent victory against the St Iria Wolves still fresh in the memory confidence was high, if expectations remained realistic.
Many teams with far more experience than the region’s fledgling group have suffered dearly at the hands of Portugal’s perennially strongest team and the match was always going to be a test of determination and discipline for the Pirates.
The Navigators started strongly and had soon scored two touchdowns, both of which were converted for two more points. But the Pirates began to adapt to the challenges and scoring became more difficult for the Lisbon team as the match progressed and at halftime the score was 29-0 in favour of the Navigators.
As the teams lined up for the second half it was clear that the Champions were expecting to run rampant from their strong lead, but they reckoned without the resolve and strength of the league’s newest team, who held them for long periods and came close themselves on three occasions to scoring against the more established team. Only superb defense by the Navigators stopped the Algarve team from crossing into the end zone.
The final score of 52-0 may seem to tell the story of a one sided game, but the reality was very different and acting Head Coach Don Dixon was full of praise for the efforts of his team.
He explains “Many teams have been soundly thrashed by the Navigators, with scores regularly reaching into the 80’s without reply. The last team to play the Navigators in its first season was thrashed by 110 points and this puts our effort into true perspective. The Navigator’s coaches were very complimentary about where we are considering that we have only been formed for just a few months.”
Before the game both teams posed for a photograph with a banner in support of the Pirates Head Coach, LLew Gittens, who is currently battling illness and was unable to attend the game.
The next game for the Algarve Pirates is at home in Mexilhoeira Grande on Sunday 24th March. Entry will be free and it is expected that there will be a large crowd to cheer on the team, who can qualify for the season-ending Playoffs, a feat never before achieved by a team in its formation year.
For more information about the Pirates, either as a player or sponsor, or for details of the match on 24th March, visit their website www.algarve-pirates.com or call 960 387 408.