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Prepping the UK for American Football

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The Patriots aren't the only New England team heading across the Atlantic Ocean to spread the word of the American football to sports fans in the UK.

One the eve of the Patriots clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium, the varsity football team of the Kent School in Kent, Conn., will line up against local opposition in Bristol, a city two hours to the west of London. At 3pm on Saturday, Oct. 24, the preparatory school roster will face the Filton College Pride in "Global Bowl Bristol."

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Football fans eager to warm up for a weekend of international football can watch a webcast of the game on GlobalFootball.com at 9pm on Oct. 24.

The Kent School has opened the new season with three straight wins and will take a break from its current NEPSAC (New England Prep School Athletic Council) season to enjoy four days overseas. Of course, players, coaches and families making the trip will also be at Wembley Stadium to cheer on the Patriots.

The challenge game is the latest in a series of Global Bowls organized by Patrick Steenberge, a former quarterback at the University of Notre Dame whose Global Football company specializes in hosting games around the world.

"Our mission is to share our passion for the sport with intrigued onlookers and hardcore fans, of which there are many in Britain," explained Steenberge. "We hope the challenge of a game against American opposition will aid the Filton College Pride in their development of the sport and will encourage local sports fans to come along to see what junior American football has to offer."

Filton College is unique in the UK in offering students aged 15 to 19 an opportunity to spend a minimum of 15 hours per week playing and learning about American football, while studying in school. They aim to produce players who can then progress to playing at the college level in the United States and perhaps one day in the NFL. Don't laugh ... who would have thought a German lineman (Sebastian Vollmer) from similar beginnings would be wearing the Patriots number 76 jersey this season?

Before heading west to Bristol to take on the Pride, the Kent School party will practice in London near their Hyde Park hotel and visit the Tower of London and other popular tourist sites. An action-packed game day will see them take in the historic Stonehenge site and the nearby Roman city of Bath before they put on pads and helmets to get down to business.

"This will be a wonderful cultural experience for the student-athletes on our team," said Kent School head coach Todd Marble, who has been at the helm for 18 seasons. "At Kent, we have a place in our football program for anyone willing to commit to excellence on and off the field and those young men will represent themselves and our school with pride. Our staff and players are proud to carry forward a tradition of excellence that has been associated with Kent Football for more than 100 years."

Patriots fans in London for the weekend of the NFL International Series game who wish to watch the Kent School in action can travel to Bristol by train from London Paddington Station to Bristol Parkway, Station leaving no later than 12.45pm. Trains leave every hour at 15 minutes before the hour at a cost of £25 ($39) for a return ticket and the journey time in 1hr 20. The Filton College campus is a 10-minute walk away on New Road. Return trains depart at two minutes past the hour.

The event also has a facebook.com site which can be found by searching on facebook for "Global Bowl Bristol."

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