We recently visited Vienna, Austria to conduct a youth football camp and our experience was a certainly a memorable one.
Being involved in all aspects of the camp, we had a front row view of how the game is evolving in Europe. According to wiki, in 2017 just 1 in 39 players in the NFL are international players, but the popularity of US football abroad is growing. And so is the talent. In 2017, we watched the most notable european NFL’er, Dolphins rb Jay Ajayi have a monster year.
During YFO’s trip abroad, we met young Austrian players that could really ball. We were impressed with the size and strength of the kids, and the willingness to learn and get better. Athletes we spoke with had curiosity about life in America, some expressed an interest to attend high school and college in the US for the purpose of playing american football. If you look into the eyes of these kids, you could tell they love the game.
Some key take-aways that were learned while in Europe:
- Females love the game. Inclusion of girls playing and coaching football with great intensity. The girls have high expectations of themselves and strong work ethic. We found our newest YFO All-star, Viviane Adaobe, after watching her dominate agility and tackle drills. Her goal is to be the first girl to play in the NFL.
- Football does not discriminate. We learned about refugees, new to the european culture, finding a place to feel accepted, on a football field. We heard stories of how child refugees quickly opened up as they felt like members of the team.
- Coaches in Europe have the same challenges as coaches in the US. Keeping the attention of kids, parent concerns and other issues that US youth football coaches encounter on a daily basis are common abroad as well.
So what did I learn about youth football in Europe? They have a distinct love and appreciation for american football. Just as american football teaches kids an abundance of life lessons and brings families together in the US, the same occurs across the world. The same occurs everywhere this great sport is played.
To summarize my Austrian football experience, one word- inclusivity. Everyone is welcome to participate and reap the benefits of the involvement of football.
We thank the Junior Tigers team, the dedicated football coaches and kids in Vienna, Austria for hosting us and making our trip an awesome experience.