August is coming to an end and that means the end of summer too. A lot of people have been complaining about the dodgy weather over the last couple of months, but we shouldn’t forget that the Football Gods provided us with great weather for the last season (more of the same next season please, amen). Most FFL teams have started their training by now and this reporter spent a little time with the 6-time reigning Belgian Champions on Saturday morning in Titletown (aka Izegem) to see just what’s up in Tribes-land. But first, the rest of the FFL news.
– The Gent Gators are definitely leading the league in offseason headlines, but this time it’s due to a player leaving. Their FB Sander De Gussem is heading to Germany to play for the Badener Griefs (Division 2, based in and around Karlsruhe). This is quite a blow for the offense of the Gators, as not only was De Gussem adept at gaining the tough yards up the middle but he’s also a good blocker and a solid catch out of the backfield.
Despite this, I’m looking forward to having a bit of a Captain Cook* at Gators training camp in November in Brugge.
– The (perhaps not quite finalised) junior schedule has been released. There are two leagues : 9 vs 9 and 6 vs 6.
The FFL teams involved in 9-a-side are : Brussels Bulls, Brussels Black Angels.
The FFL teams involved in 6-a-side are : Gent Gators, Brussels Bulls, Leuven Lions, Bornem Titans.
That leaves the Shotguns, Tribes and Diamonds without junior teams (yes, I know I typed in the Bulls twice – they have entered both competitions). This falls quite a bit short of one of my wishes for this season that all teams play juniors – I just hope that the kids are going to be looked after and developed properly (as in having a dedicated coach all season long) whether they get to play games or not.
Junior teams play just 4 games each beginning on September 25 in Gent (6-a-side) and in Anderlecht (9-a-side) and culminate on December 4 at the Junior Bowl. Like I said, the schedule isn’t finalised, and I wonder if the teams playing 6-a-side will have a title game too, because that’s not included in the schedule at this stage.
I know that I said that I wasn’t going to cover the juniors, but I’ll head out when I can to see the players of the future and give a report on what I see.
– I do believe that I forgot to mention what EFAF Chief Dude Robert Huber thought of the Belgian Bowl. First of all, windy, but more importantly he ‘thought it was very well done considering where we come from’. Also Joop Woudenberg declared that the final of the Tulip Bowl in the Netherlands wouldn’t have been delayed (due to no ambulance for the preceeding Junior final) in Belgium because ambulances are mandatory. Sounds like a couple of impressed guys to me!
– The FFL is scheduled to release the senior schedule in a couple of weeks. Bring it on, I say!
– The Diamond Bowl (only on September 18) will feature the Antwerp Diamonds (of course), the Leuven Lions, defending winners the Lelystad Commanders and one more team yet to be confirmed.
As Lions coach Christof Lauriers said, “It’s going to be hard because of the short preparation window. But at least some of the new guys will experience a game situation quite soon”. It’s a great opportunity for the coaches as well, to try out some new things and see where their teams need extra work. I, for one, am looking forward to it.
Quote of the week
“It’s to prolong the ‘pain’ of being away from football. It’s painful for me too, but it’s neccessary to remind us how special this sport is when it’s time to play” – Bulls coach Curtis Plybon on why his veteran senior players start training so late.
First look – West Flanders Tribes
There were about 13 players at the training although only 3 seniors (these trainings are more for the young ones anyway, and I believe the first official training is next week). The Tribes have just too few players for juniors and also one too few for a flag team in Izegem, although that could change soon (one disadvantage of training in two locations, as the Tribes do, is for the young ones, it’s almost impossible to have half a flag team in Ostend and the other half in Izegem, the kids won’t ever get to train together due to transport).
New Tribes defensive coördinator Stefaan DeGrendele was working up a sweat taking the guys through their conditioning and ball-handling drills, as enthusiastic as ever.
It looked like a typical early season training to me. Lots of hard running and slightly out of shape players puffing away were to be seen all over the field. The lack of seniors also reeks of pre-season! The Tribes don’t have any games scheduled until November 6, so a slow build-up is to be expected.
That’s about all for this week. If you haven’t seen the video of the Black Angels doing a little dance for TV it’s well worth a look! Check it out on facebook. Until next time
* ‘a Captain Cook’ is rhyming slang for ‘a look’
About 5 minutes before I posted the blog for this evening I heard the news that our FFL President, John van de Mergel was going to be taking more of a back seat from now on.
I think this is going to be one of those deals where people won’t think it’s going to be a problem, but only later on realise just how much effort John put in. Thankfully he’ll still be involved with the organisation of the Belgian Bowl, but the organisers can use all the help they can get!
I can only assume that there will be some sort of search for a replacement. Perhaps it’s time for people to reflect on things at the FFL level and not just at team level, not easy to do, I know, but we’re all in this together.
So, at the risk of being accused of just saying what I’m told to say : John, thankyou.