Algarve Pirates earn respect against Portuguese Champions

The Algarve’s only American Football team, the Algarve Pirates, played the current league champions Lisbon Navigators in the fourth match of the season, at the University Sports ground in Lisbon.

Having scored a victory in their last game against the St Iria Wolves, the team had trained hard in preparation for the Navigators. Many more experienced teams than them have suffered huge defeats to the Navigators, Portugal’s strongest team in the first three seasons of the league, so the match was clearly going to be a test of determination and discipline for the Pirates.

The Navigators scored two touchdowns early on and completed two-point conversions as well. The Pirates adapted to the challenges from that point and scoring became more difficult for the Lisbon team. The halftime score was 29-0 in favour of the Navigators.

As the teams lined up for the second half, the league champions were probably expecting to score ever more easily, but the resolve and strength of the league’s newest team showed as the Pirates held them for longer and longer periods and came close to scoring themselves on three occasions.

Only superb defence in the red zone by the Navigators stopped the Algarve team from crossing into the end zone.

The final score (Lisboa Navigators 52 : 0 Algarve Pirates) does not tell the full story as 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 80s 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 March 24. 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.