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    Britballers in Europe

    Britballers in Europe

    It seems like over the last couple of years a large number of the better ballers in the British game have headed out into Europe to play their Football. I spoke to some of them to understand their reasons for going, and to see how things differ on the continent.

    First up, one of our premier defensive backs.

    Name: Will Hobbs - Age - 26

    British teams you have played for – Nottingham Caesars Youth, Nottingham Caesars, Hull Sharks, Sheffield Predators, Hallam Warriors, GB Students, Tamworth Phoenix, UoN Students.

    European Teams you have played for/ are signed to play for- Calanda Broncos (Switzerland).

    What are the main differences between playing in Britain and Europe?

    The professionalism of team/club/organization, fans, consistency of quality/size of OL, respect as an athlete.

    What are your favourite aspects of playing in Europe?

    Fans and support. Not paying extortionate rates to play a game I love. Free stash ;)

    What is your longer term plan? – Unsure. Back to the UK for the 2018 season, then back to Europe.

    Next up was a former London Warrior and current GB linebacker

    Name: David Izinyon – Age – 24

    British teams you have played for - Surrey Stingers, Farnham Knights, London Warriors, GB students, GB adults and Nottingham Trent.

    European teams played for: Hämeenlinna Huskies.

    What are the main differences between playing in Britain and Europe?

    The main difference from playing In the UK and Europe is the intensity and speed. Almost everyone on the field is an import and you have the American imports that have been playing most of their lives, which makes you elevate your level of play and reaction because for them most things are like second nature. In the UK, you practice once or twice a week, which is good, but there’s a limitation of growth with how you play. In Europe it’s football 24/7 so there’s practice four times a week, film study and things we don’t really have time to do in the UK because of work, school or lack of time. I enjoy playing in Europe because there’s a different level of challenge, which makes me work harder than normal because everyone’s working just as hard as you, or even harder, so you have to find a way of elevating your game. It’s also a great way to get knowledge from different players, last year in the Hämeenlinna Huskies I played with Tahj Jones, an LSU linebacker who I studied, and he taught me things that made me understand the game more technically in the aspects of what my assignment is, why I’m doing it and when I’m doing it.

    What is your longer term plan?

    The long-term plan is to see how far I can go with the sport, but overall I’m happy with my journey from Surrey Stingers to the Hämeenlinna Huskies.

    Some players have experience in more than one country, like this student athlete, who plays both ways.

    Name: Natal Melero - Age – 21

    British teams you have played for – Peterborough Saxons, NTU Renegades.

    European Teams you have played for/ are signed to play for- Carlstad Crusaders, Tyresö Royal Crowns, Helsinki Wolverines.

    What are the main differences between playing in Britain and Europe?

    The organisation and professionalism is a big difference. In Sweden they show games on national TV and have youth teams stretching all the way down to Under-10. Playing in Europe also allows you to play against better players and teams, these kinds of experiences mold you into a better player yourself.

    What are your favourite aspects of playing in Europe?

    Playing for a larger fan base is a cool thing, the atmosphere of the games/crowd is a lot different than it is in the UK. My favourite aspect is the coaching, playing in Europe has allowed me to be coached by talented coaches from across the continent as well as top NCAA colleges, those kind of experiences help you improve your football IQ and technique significantly.

    What is your longer term plan?

    Playing last summer gave me a platform to be able to go back to Europe and play for better teams and reach higher levels. With the option of Europe there, it doesn’t make much sense to play in the UK when there are plenty of opportunities to better myself in a European league rather than playing senior football in the UK. Past the money and benefits the truth is that the ceiling in European leagues is higher than it is in the UK. That’s why I think you see more and more British players choosing to take that route instead of playing domestically.

    It’s not just the guys who are getting in on the action. I spoke to a GB Women’s international fullback about her experience in Finland.

    Name: Gaby Knops - Age - 21

    British teams you have played for – Leeds Carnegie Chargers, Carnegie American Football, Great Britain 

    European Teams you have played for/ are signed to play for- Jyvaskyla Jaguars

    What are the main differences between playing in Britain and Europe?

    I got to play women’s 11 a side where we play 7 a side in Great Britain. So I got to play special teams!! I was also treated like a pro athlete so got to train daily, which was great!

    What are your favourite aspects of playing in Europe? 

    I loved the traveling, I got to travel all over Finland playing different teams and meeting new people. I also enjoyed the engagement from fans and people really enjoying coming to watch American football. 

    What is your longer term plan?

    My long term plan is to keep training hard and hopefully play football for Great Britain and go for gold in the European championships.  I would also like to help to grow the women’s  programme in the UK so we can play 11 a side too. I would love to go back to Europe in the future or maybe play out in America.

    Here’s a player who has experience of the German football League

    Name: Ben Hoban – Age – 23

    British teams you have played for - I have played for London blitz, Loughborough students and Tamworth Phoenix in the UK.

    European Teams you have played for/ are signed to play for

    I played for the Stuttgart scorpions last year in Europe.

    What are the main differences between playing in Britain and Europe?

    The main difference I found playing in Europe was the speed of the game playing with the talent out there and the size of the crowds they get at games.

    What are your favourite aspects of playing in Europe? 

    My favourite part of playing in Europe was to test myself against some high level players and being able to dedicate all my time to being an athlete. Playing in stadiums in front of a crowd is also something I won’t forget.

    What is your longer term plan?

    Right now it’s hard to say because I don’t know. I might be getting an offer to go out again towards the end of February. If not I’ll be playing at Tamworth

    Finally I spoke to an ambitious linebacker who has seen Championship success in the British Universities league.

    Name: Jack Rice - Age - 22 

    British teams you have played for – Bedfordshire Blue Raiders, Ouse Valley Eagles, Stirling Clansmen, NTU Renegades.

    European Teams you have played for/ are signed to play for- Jyvaskyla Jaguars, Marburg Mercenaries.

    What are the main differences between playing in Britain and Europe?

    The level of skill position players in Europe is much higher than the UK, especially at QB. The game is faster and the majority of players are bigger and stronger.

    What are your favourite aspects of playing in Europe?

    Being immersed in a different countries culture, and experiencing things you would never be able to as a normal tourist. Being paid to follow your passion is also a massive plus!

    What is your longer term plan?

    See how far I can take football! In the short term, definitely play more around Europe and then when I come back to the UK continue to play and hopefully pass on some of my knowledge I have gained.

    The obvious theme here, is that our continental neighbors take the game seriously. The leagues are semi-professional, the teams have sponsors and play in proper stadiums. Any ambitious British player would aspire to further their game in the European leagues. The German GFL1 probably has the highest standard of play in Europe, and we will have British athletes plying their trade there alongside NCAA division one players. Websites such as The Podyum allow you to showcase your talents, and put yourself in the shop window. It’s a shame that the British game doesn’t afford these talented individuals the chance to play at the higher level they are capable of.

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