Hello and welcome back to the Barbarian Blog.
So I may have mentioned recently that something big has happened for The Barbarians. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I should tell you, because this is probably the most important thing that I’ve written in the blog so far. Suppose I’ll just come right out and say it.
The BFL would like a National Team to compete at the 2016 European Championships, and The Barbarians will be the starting point for that.
This all probably requires some explanation. What it means is that this little Barbarian team that we put together at the end of last season has evolved into the National Team! We are no longer ‘The Barbarians’, but the ‘Belgian Barbarians’. I do believe that I mentioned a few weeks ago that the plan was only to select Belgian players. This was because we had hoped to become the National Team one day, but none of us expected it to happen so quickly.
Next thing, if you go back and look at the potential schedule I posted a couple of weeks ago, you’ll notice a game in August. It’s not confirmed, but there are talks going on right now to bring another country into Belgium to play against. So because it’s not 100% certain yet, I won’t talk about just which country it would be, but if you would have five guesses (or probably even twenty), you wouldn’t guess right. Also nothing is known yet as far as location would go (besides the fact that it would be in Belgium). I’ll keep you updated as news comes to hand though.
Now, as far as the European Championship goes, in the next cycle, each group is scheduled to be played over a weekend (as opposed to a full week, which is the case now). This allows smaller countries (like us) to be able to participate. Obviously we won’t be facing Germany and Austria, but will start way down in one of the lowest groups. It is not yet known where the games will take place, and not actually even if we will participate, but that is the grand plan.
Well I’m already excited just by re-reading what I’ve just written down. Time for something else then, but I think it’s great that the BFL is taking this step!
Introducing the Barbarian coaches
Last time we met our esteemed head coach, this time we’ll meet the brains of the outfit – it’s the Barbarians offensive coördinator.
Name : Pauwel Depreitere
Age : 26
Team : Gent Gators
Experience : 9 years playing, 3 years coaching, 1 year as player/coach
Current role at club team : Offensive coördinator
Why are you involved with the Barbarians : I want to improve the offensive level of football in Belgium and improve quarterback play. As a coach I see how little people invest their time into quarterback play (which I do think is the most valuable position on the football field). This will be a great opportunity to teach talented passers to become a quarterback and not just a passer.
A special guest
We aren’t done here today, there is one more thing for you. We have a special guest, and he’s here to talk about his experiences as a player for The Barbarians last season. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Titans and Barbarians LB, Mr Mathias Lagae.
A small introduction
When I started out a few years ago, it was the year of the last all-star game. I used to play DT back then and to my surprise, I made the team! I learned a lot from those practices, thanks to a really good coaching staff and the other more experienced players. Later I came to understand that the players selected for this team were put on a list by their teams’ coaches. That was a bit of a disappointment, simply because I’m not sure I actually deserved it, or it was because I couldn’t stop whining about it… but the biggest disappointment was that there wasn’t going to be an all star team for a couple of years.
But none the less it was a great experience and I kept on wanting more…
So last year when the rumor started that there was going to be an all-star team again I was ecstatic! Even more so because Dale, who has, at least in my opinion, one of the most respected views in the league, was going to hand pick the team! Even the replacements who subbed for the guys that couldn’t be there needed to go through him, so it was already a big accomplishment just to be there!
The season came to an end and Dale was about to announce his selection. I’m always a bit of kid concerning being mentioned in the blog (don’t tell me you guys aren’t) but then I was really nervous. But no worries, the work I put in throughout the practices, games and in the gym paid off! I made it!
Before the first practice, waiting in the cantine, looking for who would show up. It was a bit awkward, some people already knew each other, but mostly everyone stuck to the people from their own team.
Then it was time for the Coaches to introduce themselves, after that, playbook, theory and then finally out to the field. For me personally, one of the best moments with the Barbarians was seeing with what ease this team came together as soon as it hit the gridiron! Coaches simply said, “Run this play”, and immediately everybody understood what to do. No need to explain to each individual player what to do. Just men who understood their jobs and did them. There were a few errors we needed to work out, but that wouldn’t be too hard. (My experience, probably not the coaches’)
By the end of the first practice, the groups that used to be formed by the personal teams, were almost reduced to nothing… Okay the Brussels teams took a bit to each other and so did we but I think that was mostly because we didn’t yet find the miracle that is English… I remember mostly the hours after the first practice with a lot of laughter and beers. The present Tribes members stayed the longest and to this day I’m still not sure how they got home.
Practice 2: working out the hiccups and getting this team rolling! It’s pretty damn cool, that with all these years experience, players can learn this much from the coaches and from each other. It’s cool to hear other coaches talk about their vision on offense and defense. To let them make you better, because they saw you play and already had ideas on how to make you better during their own season.
By the end of the practice English was found out to be a good way to communicate and the groups started to break down… The Black Angels even turned out to be a crazy bunch and a whole lot of fun!
Well, you all know how that went, thanks to game tape and thanks to our host’s blog. But to me there was more than just the great plays that occurred, the kickass touchdowns and the awesome picks. This was the moment we became a real team. Winning is a good way to form bonds. Even with the player I would have loved to kick his ass the most during the season, I came to an understanding. A form of mutual respect. He probably knows what I’m talking about. But seeing him lower his shoulder because of what I’d said and knocking that defender on his ass was worth it!
This was the single best experience that I’ve had in my football career. Playing with the best in Flanders and a couple of Walloon additions was awesome. I got to know a lot of people who I used to see as enemies and now as friends, who share the same passion that is Football. And that, in light of the fights we had during the last few seasons, is one of the best things that could happen. Bringing the teams closer together, especially the players who are considered the best and are the role models within their teams is what the Barbarians is all about.
Another cool thing is seeing what we realized on such short notice, thanks to the coaches who decided they were going to do this. Thanks to Dale for writing his blog and picking the Barbarians and thanks to Benedict for having the idea for us to compete at the Treasure Cup in the first place.
I hope people can see now and in the years to come what we can realize if we work together. Especially now, when we are going to include the Walloon teams. That instead of working for your own personal teams’ glory, we can all flourish if we create a higher level of football.
I’m going to train and play my ass off to make it to this year’s team, and I hope you will all do the same!
Well, blog posts don’t come much bigger than this, I would say. I can only hope that you’re all as excited as we are. I’ve said this before, but the Belgian Barbarians could still do with a couple more position coaches – if you want to get involved then let us know.
So as usual, show some love to the blog by leaving a like if you liked, a comment if you’ve got something to say and a share if you’re excited. This is all going to be a lot of work, but watch out world, the Belgian Barbarians are in the house! Until next time