The future of the Oxford University Lancers American Football Club (OULAFC) is secure thanks to former club member Ryan Millsap. His donation of £56,000 has enabled the club to establish a dedicated site as the home of American Football in Oxford. Ryan has also pledged to give £825,000 over ten years to endow American Football at Oxford, ensuring its financial sustainability for many years to come.

The new American Football pitch – which was unveiled on Saturday 7 May – is located at University Parks in Oxford and will allow the club access to a safe and constant venue for training and matches: previously, the team had to switch between various locations. The endowment will then generate an income to cover essential club expenses, such as the purchase of specialist equipment.

Oxford University Lancers American Football Club at last year's Varsity match

Historically, member subscriptions have had to cover vital expenditure, such as the regular replacement of helmets and safety gear. As a result of the endowment, the cost of subscriptions will be reduced, making the club more accessible to financially disadvantaged students whose sporting talent and enthusiasm will enrich the Lancers in the future. It is anticipated that increased membership, improved training facilities and investment in equipment will have a significant impact on the team’s competitiveness and will create an environment that allows student athletes to flourish in the sport – particularly welcome as the team moves from Division 2 to Division 1 of the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) league next year.

Ryan Millsap – who played quarterback for the Lancers (formerly known as the Cavaliers) in its infancy as well as being a first eights rower when he came to study at Oxford from the US in the 1990s – says: ‘I am deeply grateful for the time I was afforded at Oxford and at Keble College particularly. Participation in sport has had a profoundly positive influence on my personal development and football emphasises teamwork and toughness: a player must endure pain and hardship for the good of his team and is asked to fight on through all adversity in order to spur the team to victory. I’m deeply grateful for those early life experiences that I’ve carried into adult life.

‘I take deep pleasure in a gift that intends to make American Football a permanent fixture at Oxford and that hopefully will afford many other men and women the opportunity to reap the benefits of character building born from this quintessentially American test of endurance, ingenuity and grit.’

Ryan Millsap (left) and Stewart W Humble. Photo by Katie Bell Photography

Stewart W Humble, President of OULAFC, says: ‘Ryan was MVP (most valuable player) of the team as chosen by the coaches during his year in Oxford, he was the Player’s Player as chosen by teammates and now, his passion to give back and help to build a brighter future for the Lancers has been incredible. Serving as President for OULAFC coupled with Ryan’s vision for the team, we have been able to set the foundation for sustained growth – both in terms of student involvement and performance in the BUCS university league. One thing I’ve learned over the past year is how important alumni support is to the continued development of our University sports clubs. Without that backing, it would be impossible to implement the vast improvements the Lancers have been working toward all season.

‘Ryan is helping to build something very special for Oxford University American Football that will provide momentum for years to come. It has been a privilege for me to play a role in that process – I look forward to more and more exciting news as the Lancers continue to build and expand.’