From starting at an American football under-19’s development day in November 2021 to being in the Team GB squad by April 2023. 

Chloe Southard began her American football journey when she moved to Liverpool in September 2021 and saw her university team was mixed gender. After watching a couple of Super Bowls with her parents, she decided it was her time to give it a try.  

The Liverpool Raptors are currently competing in the Northern League in Division one with the hopes of another championship this season, continuing their three back-to-back championships in Division two. 

The team welcomes you no matter your size, shape, athletic ability or background. They hold two tester sessions at the start of every academic year which is how Chloe fell into the sport.  

Permission of image use by Chloe Southard

The 20-year-old told Mersey Sport Live: “My parents have been watching it since NFL highlights were first shown on Channel 4 in the 80s. I ended up watching two Super Bowls with them before going to uni. I went down to the first rookie session, being the only girl, and haven’t looked back since.”  

American football hasn’t always been the Londoner’s sport: “I did gymnastics for 12 years and then boxing for two years before coming to uni.

“My parents would often be watching the highlights of NFL games when I got back from gymnastics, and I’d sit and watch it with them.” 

In April 2022 Chloe made her debut for team GB after less than three years in the sport against Sweden at the Sixways Stadium in Worcester. 

“It was insane; the atmosphere and support were incredible,” she recalls.  

“I really didn’t think anything like this would be possible three years ago. I’m so grateful to everyone who has been involved in my journey so far. I have been given so much support right from the start, and I couldn’t be more thankful.”  

Chloe on her debut against Sweden / Image with permission to use

It has been a rapid rise since the cornerback attended her first session. She said: “I went to an under-19 girl’s development day in November 2021, and from then was invited to a GB trial in December 2021.

“I made the GB training squad as a development player in January 2022 and, by the end of the year, made the full GB training squad. I was then selected as one of 45 in the GB game day squad, where we played Sweden in April 2023 and again when we played Germany in May 2023.”  

The game against Sweden marked the 10-year anniversary of the first ever Great Britain Women’s game, which was also played vs Sweden in 2013. 

American football is traditionally a very male dominated sport but over the years the National Women’s Football League (NWFL) has continued to grow as Great Britain are currently ranked second in the world.  

Said Chloe: “There’s nothing stopping you from playing American football, there are so many teams who would be more than happy for you to join and introduce you to the sport.

“Anyone, any size, and any ability can join. The camaraderie within all teams is something most sports never truly have. So, give it a go.” 

A stereotypical NFL player is tall wide and powerful, however there are players who don’t always match the typecast such as Tre Tomlinson, an LA Rams Cornerback and Darious Williams, a Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback. Both are relatively short (5” 9’) compared to other corners and wide receivers. These are a couple of players that Chloe takes inspiration from. 

“They show that height doesn’t matter, and they are still playmakers for their teams,” she said. 

The Liverpool Raptors are currently sitting in mid-table on the same points as their Liverpool rivals, LJMU Fury with both Merseyside teams only winning three out of eight games this season.  

“Being a member of the Liverpool Raptors is a combination of fun and hard work,” said Chloe.

“The squad has a really good mix of people, and everyone is very welcoming. We all look out for each other, and there’s always a good vibe at training, matches and socials.”

After she has finished her degree the options are open for Chloe regarding where she goes next with her American football.

She said: “I will definitely keep it up. There are women’s leagues outside of uni ball. I have options for teams depending on if I go back to London or stay in Liverpool.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Liverpool Raptors (@liverpoolraptors)