As women’s tackle football enjoys great strides of growth the world over, Phoebe Schechter has established herself as one of the elite competitors in Great Britain, consisting of England, Scotland and Wales. When not on the gridiron, Schecter, who competes at the linebacker position, is employed as a personal trainer in Cheshire, England (her facebook page is called Fitness With Phoebe).
In addition, she donates her time to Team Great Britain as a Strength and Conditioning consultant, writing a fitness program for the team, focusing on recovery time and endurance. Having also played in the British American Football Association’s (BAFA) inaugural Opal Series (a flag football event in 2013), she has become synonymous with the game’s growth in Great Britain. Although she was born in the United States, Schecter’s love for the gridiron game was actually fuelled upon relocation to England.
“Being American, I have always watched football, but never avidly. When I moved to England in December 2012, I shortly afterwards saw an ad for LFL Manchester. Through that, I met Bev Marwood, who brought me along to GB trials, and the rest is history!”
While the game is still at the grass roots level throughout Europe, the growing enthusiasm of players is only adding to an exciting time. On both sides of the Atlantic, numerous variations of female football have included 5-vs-5 games or an expanded version with 7-vs-7. Schecter’s first experience gracing the gridiron for Great Britain occurred in a 5-vs-5 game on October 20, 2013 at the University of Hertfordshire (a 27-10 victory), setting the stage for a remarkable career to sprout.
“The first time I wore the GB jersey was in our 5-vs-5 game vs. Sweden. The sense of pride is overwhelming and I get the feeling every time I have been lucky enough to put it on! Knowing you are representing your country is the most unbelievable feeling.”
Schecter’s second international friendly with Team Great Britain was also against the Swedes. This time, it featured an 11-vs-11 format, a first for the team. Once again, Schecter was on the winning side, part of a 27-10 victory. She was one of 15 members from her club team, the Birmingham Lions (including quarterback and team captain Jo Kilby) that were named to Team Great Britain’s roster.
Also a charter member of the Lions, the joy and jubilation of grabbing a national championship with her club team in the Sapphire Series represented a significant breakthrough in her gridiron career. It would prove to be the catalyst for many future glories in her career. Of note, it also contributed to her favorite moment as a member of Team Great Britain. Akin to the victory with the Lions, it was another underdog situation that culminated in a glorious outcome,
“For the Lions, it would be winning the first national championship. We were a team of misfits who worked hard and fell in love with the game.
With Team GB, it would be winning silver at the Women’s European Championships (WEC). We were the underdogs who everyone underestimated. We ended up stealing the hearts of players and coaches alike and proved everyone wrong.”
Held in Maracena, Spain in the first week of August 2015, Great Britain qualified for the event by defeating the Russian team by a 54-6 mark. In the first game of the WEC, Schecter was named Team Great Britain’s Most Valuable Player, as a 17-6 victory against Germany began a great string of momentum, culminating with an appearance in the gold medal game.
Despite a 50-12 loss to Finland (who captured bronze at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds), Schecter’s efforts have helped elevate Team Great Britain to a number 2 ranking among women’s football teams in Europe. A significant milestone considering that the team was ranked last prior to the beginning of the competition.
As the third edition of the IFAF Women’s Worlds shall take place in 2017, the chance to suit up for Great Britain is one of Schecter’s objectives for the future. Equally admirable, Schecter is dedicated to helping the game grow. The Lions have started a relationship with the NFL Play 60 program, which helps introduce children to football in a safe and fun manner.
“I would love to be a part of the team that competes at the Worlds in 2017. Also, I would love to start up a women’s team and start getting girls of all ages involved in tackle football.”
Of note, she has visited regional clubs such as the Manchester Titans and Chester Romans. Sharing her acumen, she has assisted with drills while offering advice and encouragement. Eventually, the possibility of Schecter establishing a training program or introductory event for young women interested in the game would be a tremendous legacy. Undoubtedly, her abilities and passion for the game on and off the field define her as a tremendous asset to the growth of female football in Great Britain.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”