I Would Like My Football With A Side Of International
I had been living in Elancourt, France for nearly three months and had six FFFA Elite League games under my belt, but I never had any experience in international play. My team, the Elancourt Templiers, was competing in the IFAF Champions League and it was time to play our first opponent within the league, the London Blitz, in Elancourt.
This was the game that made me fall in love with international competition. I remember that that game was very different from the prior six games my team had played, for many different reasons, but mainly because there was an entirely different level of pride involved in this game. The result of this game would not just be viewed as a representation of which team was superior at football, it would be viewed as a representation of which country was superior at football. This dynamic of international play was one I had never came across before in my sixteen year career. I finally became fully aware of the situation when the national anthems were played before the game and each team held up their respective country's flag. At this point it became very clear to me that I was going to be helping represent French American Football during this game.
There is something about a team from one country, competing against a team from another country that brings out the pride in one's own country. The attendance of this game was three times the amount of any home games that we had previously played, and you could tell this was no longer a casual event to attend on a Saturday night. The crowd was emotionally involved in the game, cheering on their respective teams. It is about your country being better at something than another country. This is partly what makes events like the Olympics and the World Cup so great. Now I know the Elancourt Templiers was not Team France, and that the London Blitz was not Team Britain, but in a way, it felt like it.
Although my country was not competing in this game, I did not feel any amount of national pride at any time during the game. It was an awesome experience watching the people around me, especially the crowd, being so passionate about the sport I love.
Now fast forward to today. I have now played many international games, including one with a US college, and I still feel exactly the same way as I did then. But now I understand that great international games and leagues are not only a great way to stir up passion about this sport, but because of this passion, I believe international play is vital in for the growth of the sport. Tivoli (the Swarco Raider's home stadium) is always the better attended when we play international games, but it cannot just be any international team playing each other. People want to see the best play the best. This was evident in this past years games against Elmhurst College, Helsinki, and Braunschweig. These games are important for the exposure of American Football in Europe, which is key for the continued expansion of the sport. It seems that the people who make the important decisions within American Football in Europe have lost sight that the growth of the sport is the main goal. Decisions, that most people within our football community have no control of, are negatively impacting the future of this great sport within Europe and that is extremely unfortunate.