Monday, September 19, 2011

GRIDIRON AUSTRALIA TO RUN ADVERT TO ENTISE ATHLETES TO PLAY AMERICAN FOOTBALL

Gridiron Australia  will run an advert enticing athletes to play American football – or Gridiron as they call it down under - on Channel ONE HD, which is showing NFL games season.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hawkins is leading Team USA with arm and attitude

Cody Hawkins has shined during the first two games of IFAF Senior World Championship group play. The U.S. Men's National Team starting quarterback has been extraordinarily efficient for Team USA, connecting on 26-of-32 passes for an 81 percent completion rating. He has thrown for 352 yards and three touchdowns, with most of those statistics coming in the first halves of the games because of substantial U.S. leads.



But it's been his leadership that has helped solidify the squad as Team USA looks to defend its gold medal. Whether in meetings or on the field, Hawkins has displayed the qualities looked for in a national team player. This was most evident during a 61-0 win over Australia in which Hawkins chased down a blocked extra-point return, tackling the Australian runner inside the 10-yard line to preserve the shutout.

Hawkins is doing it with his arm as well. Against Australia, he completed first half touchdown passes to RB Nate Kmic and WR Alex Anderson, throwing just two incompletions during the contest in earning game MVP honors for his performances.

He steadied the U.S. offensive attack during a 48-7 win over Germany with his 13-of-17 performance for 152 yards. Hawkins has yet to throw an interception during the tournament.

“We came to win gold,” Hawkins said.  “No one wants to finish second. It is America’s game, and we take a lot of pride in that. We expect the best from ourselves, and even though everyone on our team came from different levels and from all over the country, we have no problem coming together for one goal.”

See video feature on Hawkins...>

One Win Away From the Gold Medal Game

The Mexican Senior National team is one win away from the Gold Medal game at the IFAF Senior World Championship, a goal they have had their eye on since arriving. But in order to reach it, Mexico must first face the United States. Both teams enter the game 2-0, and the winner will win the first spot at in the championship game on Saturday, July 16 in Vienna, Austria. 

In the first two games, Mexico defeated Germany in a thrilling 22-15 game and then dominated the game against Australia. 



But even though all the players and coaches are focused on the mission on hand, they still are enjoying the journey. 

“It has been a great experience,” said Mexico’s assistant coach Gabriel Sanchez. “The team is enjoying the tournament. This is a one time opportunity for most of us. We are trying to enjoy it.” 

For some, this is the end of the road for their football careers and are leaving everything on the field like cornerback Roberto Silva who has had a very impressive football career including some time spent playing in NFL Europe. 

“This is my last tournament,” said Silva. “I am turning 30 this month, so this is my graduation of football. It is a pleasure to play with these guys. Six or seven I played with them for ten or twelve years. We finished college in 2005 and then we played in NFL Europe."

“I think every player wants to have a good farewell. It is hard to say goodbye to this sport, I have been playing since I was 6 years old. It is a great time being here.”

The schedule at the IFAF Senior World Championship has been grueling playing three games in six days, something both Mexico and USA are not used to doing. 

“It has been tough, but we knew it would be coming here,” said coach Sanchez. “We tried to choice great players. In the first game we played with some players and in the second game we played with others. And they were all at the same level.”

Silva explained he didn’t play as much in the second game against Australia so his body would have more time to rest. 

“I am pretty old,” joked Silva.  “And we needed to get ready for USA. It is hard to play games so close together. We play hard. Every play is like we play to die. This is war for us. And we are ready.”

Mexico enters his game with the confidence that they have a shot at beating the USA, but know it will be a difficult task.  

“USA is a great team,” said coach Sanchez.  “They run the ball good, so first we need to stop run to beat them.  “We are prepared. We know how they play. USA will play without mistakes, so we have to make sure we don’t either. I feel we have the right kind of offense that can hurt them. It will be an interesting game.”

Watch a preview video of the Mexico vs USA game...>

Monday, July 11, 2011

Team USA preparing for ‘toughest opponent’ despite lack of rest

Written by Will Frasure, USA Football

Baseball and basketball players compete in games on an almost daily basis. For the U.S. Men’s National team in football, players are adjusting to that pace, which is common to football played overseas.

Team USA has played two games in four days during group play of the IFAF Senior World Championship in Austria, leaving little time for recovery and recuperation between contests. A third one – the biggest one yet – is Tuesday vs. Mexico.

The players are trying to counter the scarce time off with a variety of methods.



“A lot of ice and water treatment,” running back Nate Kmic said about what he’s been doing to recover. “This tournament is a grind with three games in six days. People are trying to stay off their feet as much as possible and get in the pool to stretch out. Anything to get ready for the next game.”

Kmic, who has 183 receiving yards from his running back position, will have to recover quickly, but the victories by wide margins over Australia and Germany have allowed Team USA rotate its players.

Quarterback Cody Hawkins, who has thrown for 356 yards in the two games, said this is why he and others should be back to full form by the time Team USA plays Mexico on Tuesday. Kickoff is 1 p.m. EST
“It has been tough playing so many games,” Hawkins said. “Luckily for me, our defense has been taking care of business and I haven’t played in the second half of the last two games. My body feels nice, but for a lot of these guys it feels like two-a-day practices.

“Playing games back-to-back-to-back, you barely have time to take a deep breath and relax.”

The team will need to be fully rehabilitated for its next contest. Team Mexico poses the biggest challenge yet for Team USA in group play. Mexico is 2-0 after beating both Australia (65-0) and Germany (22-15). The opening win against the Germans came after Mexico trailed, 15-12, at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“Mexico without a doubt is the best team we will face so far,” Hawkins said.

Size, speed and experience are what most concern the United States about Mexico. Hawkins has been impressed with the speed of Team Mexico’s skill players. He also mentioned how most of Team Mexico played at competitive colleges in their home country.

“We know that Mexico is going to be a tough game,” head coach Mel Tjeerdsma said.  “Mexico is very talented, and they play hard. We are going to have a real challenge.”

Tjeersdma mentioned Jonathon Barrera as a player to watch out for on Mexico. The running back has been a dual threat with his running and pass-catching. The tandem of Barrera and Jose Reyes has been a huge factor during Mexico’s first two wins.

Even without much rest and the possibility of their toughest opponent looming, Hawkins and the rest of Team USA haven’t forgotten about their top task: to take home a championship.

“We came to win gold,” Hawkins said. “No one wants to finish second. It is America’s game, and we take a lot of pride in that.”

What Team USA game highlights...>

Peterson a strong advocate for football across the world

Written by Will Frasure, USA Football

USA Football chairman Carl Peterson couldn’t help but acknowledge the continued and growing global popularity of football as he watched the IFAF Senior World Championship in Austria this past weekend.
The former NFL coach and executive has been a bullish supporter of international football for years. He was an active supporter of international football and NFL Europe when he was the president and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs.  Peterson has attended more than 10 football championships in Europe during his prolific career.



“I think without question, the level of competition throughout the world is getting better,” Peterson said to media during a press conference after the U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Australia.  “It is obvious that the athletes in Europe are as good as ours. All they need is more exposure to our training and background.
“I think there will come a period in time when more European players will be in the National Football League. And we have some younger players right now that are working very hard to accomplish that. I am very confident that will happen.”

The growth of football around the world – bolstered with an all-time high with 59 countries playing the sport – excites Peterson. After starting as a collegiate coach nearly 40 years ago, he has seen how the game “gives many attributes to young people that perhaps other sports do not.”

He also was impressed with the level of competition he witnessed during the championship’s first weekend. The effort exuded by not only the players but the coaches and everyone else involved is something that Peterson complemented.

“The competition is key, and I was very proud of the American team and our coaches and players but equally so for Australia and all the other participants,” Peterson said. “I know what goes into this game.”

With the first weekend finished, Peterson was more than satisfied with the production IFAF put on for everyone across Austria. From the quality of play on the field to the hospitality off of it, the USA Football chairman had only good things to say about the first couple of days of the tournament.

“We thank everyone in involved for this hospitality,” Peterson said. “It has been wonderful, and I know it will continue to be a great couple weeks in the great country of Austria.”

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mexico & Germany Receive Gold Star for Team Spirit

Germany and Mexico’s fans made the trip to Innsbruck, Austria and brought along team spirit and noise makers as the stand was vibrating with noise throughout the Mexico / Germany game on Friday, July 8 at Tivoli Stadium. 

And the fans had plenty to cheer about during the back and forth affair between the two rivals.

Here is a fan from Mexico before the game: 


Also check out some videos of the fans during the pregame ceremonies. It was a great atmosphere.  

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You can check out more videos from the IFAF Senior World Championship at www.youtube.com/IFAFInsider. 


Players and Coaches Alike Soaking in the Experience


The first day of games is in the record books at the fourth IFAF Senior World Championship in Austria. Four teams saw action in Innsbruck – United States who defeated Australia 61-0 and Mexico who beat Germany in a thriller 22-15. 

But what everyone agreed on was that is a special event and opportunity to be part of. 

USA’s starting quarterback, Cody Hawkins had a superb opening game against the Australians finishing 13-15 for 204 yards and two touchdowns but did not want to dwell on his performance but of the performance of his team and the other participants at the tournament. 



“I think if you are not motivated enough by wearing your country’s name on the side of your helmet and jersey you shouldn’t be here,” said Hawkins. “That is the great thing about this event, because whether you win or lose it’s all about giving everything you have to represent your country.  And I am confident Australia did that and I know everyone on our team did.”  

“We are all really excited about this opportunity, and I think we are going to see a lot of really good football throughout this tournament.” 

USA head coach Mel Tjeerdsma echoed his quarterback statement as this experience is not taken casually by anyone involved here in Austria.

“I’ve coached in a lot of games in my career, but this is a big event,” said Tjeerdsman.  “And our players have played in big games, but it is something special when you are representing your country. Not many people can say they played at a World Championship for American Football. And I can’t say it enough, this event has been outstanding. The whole experience has just been awesome.”

Despite the lopsided score, Australia was proud of their performance against the United States and are soaking in the experience of playing the sport they love against the best players from around the world.



Australia’s MVP running back Nathan Lansdell who led his team in rushing yards, stated this is the proudest thing Australians can do – wear your team colors and your country’s name on your jersey. 

“To represent our family, friends and country, it is a dream come true,” said Lansdell. 

“We all love game and we came here to play our hearts out. And to play against the country that the sport originated from is a dream come true. To see where we are at, and I know if anyone looked at the score they would go ‘oh wow, Australia didn’t play well’ but I thought our boys played with their hearts and really played as hard as they possibly could. And I am very proud of the effort we put in.”

But now that game one in complete, the teams and coaching staffs has the task off preparing for their next opponent in a very short amount of time. The four teams’ next group play game kicks off on Sunday, July 10.
A difficult task, but everyone is up for the challenge.



Australia’s next opponent will be Mexico who is coming off a thrilling 22-15 victory over Germany. But Australia’s head coach John Leijten believes the experience playing against the Unites States will be a great asset in the coming game. 

“We started off with the toughest team we could play against, and I am really happy how hard our guys fought,” said Leijten. “I am past US, and my mind is on Mexico right now. Our team got used to bigger and faster guys in the game against the United States and that will help us when we play Mexico.”

It won’t be an easy task though, as Mexico continues to have one goal in sight. And that is a gold medal.
“We have to prove our ability as a team,” said coach Manuel Neri Fern├índez. “We want to show the world that we are a successful organization. And our goal is to win.”

Germany will look to rebound after the heart breaking loss to Mexico as they face the United States on Sunday, but know the task will not be an easy one. 

Head Coach Marshall Happer stated, “We are going to look a lot of film on the United States. The US is going to be a tough team. Anytime you beat a team by 61-0 you know you have a pretty good team. We will certainly prepare, we aren’t giving up. We just had one loss, we win the next two and we are back in it. We don’t go into games to lose, we go in to win. So that is what we’ll do against the United States.”

Coach Tjeerdsman also stated he and his coaching staff will be reviewing the game films in preparation of the next game. 

“I learned a long time ago when you think you played well and then you watch film and you realize you didn’t play as well as you thought,” said Tjeerdsma.  “And in reverse you may find you didn’t play as bad as you thought. I think overall we played pretty good. There are obviously some things we can work on, and we have two days to get them ironed out before our next ball game.”

Two days, plenty of time!

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's Game Day in Innsbruck, Austria!!

The day has finally arrived – the fourth IFAF Senior World Championship kicks off today! And it’s the first step to see who will be crowned the world champions. 



The tournament features the best of the best from eight countries and three continents as Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico and United States have all fielded a senior national team in hopes of bringing home the title for their country. 

Today’s games, July 8, will be held in Innsbruck, Austria at the Tivoli Stadium as the Group A faceoff starting with the defending champions United States taking on the Australians at 3pm local time. 

And both teams are definitely fired up and ready to take the field including US’s Demetrius Eaton who is looking for his second gold medal as he was part of the US team that won the 2007 IFAF Senior World Championship in Kawasaki, Japan.

“This is the fourth championship, and I expect the teams to come out firing on all cylinders,” said Eaton. “We all have prepared very hard and we are all ready to play these games.”

Australia may enter as the underdogs of this game, but the challenge just excites them as the team is made up of true competitors who want their shot at playing and beating the best. 

“Our guys are very motivated,” said Australian head coach John Leijten. “When they found out the opening game was against the United States, they were excited. They want to compete with the best in the world. Football players by nature are very competitive human beings.”

Top Australian running back Matt Croasdaile added, “We have to set our goals high. We might be preserved as underdogs but we have a tremendous spirit. So we are setting our goals high and want to beat everyone we face and we’ll see how we do.”

Today’s second game in Innsbruck will feature current European Champions Germany taking on the powerful Mexico. And following Mexico’s last practice we were able to catch up with lineman Salomon Solano who was also a coach for the World team in both the 2010 and 2011 Team USA vs. the World games. 

“This is my third time playing for a Mexican national team. I played in 2004, 2005 and 2009. And each time it is a great honor.”

 “Our team goal is simple, win. Win the four games we are going to play and bring the gold medal home to Mexico. And for me personally, I want to be as productive as possible with a lot of tackles and sacks. And I want to be a team player and to be part of the success of the team.”

This tournament is so important to us, and we have a lot of fans back home who are interested and we want to win for them.”

But Mexico will definitely start off the championship with a big challenge, as Germany is just as eager to win for their country as well. Who will win? We will find out today! 

Read an official game preview of the opening games here…>

And you can follow the game at www.facebook.com/IFAF.org or www.twitter.com/IFAFInsider which will have live updates throughout each game! 

And don’t forget to vote on the poll...> .

Hope you enjoy the games!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Press Conference held in Innsbruck to kickoff the IFAF Senior World Championship


The IFAF Senior World Championship Group A teams - Australia, Mexico and United States – attended a press conference this morning at the picturesque Tirol Panorama Restaurant. It was the perfect setting as you could look down and see the city of Innsbruck including the Tivioli Stadium where the IFAF Senior World Championship will kick-off on Friday, July 8 as defending champions United States faces Australia and Mexico and Germany play in the second game. 
            

Local television and newspaper attended the press conference as the Austrian community is very excited about the upcoming event. Posters and advertisements can be found around the city including the city buses.

Each team was represented by their head coach and one player. Germany was unable to attend the event as they were traveling to Austria today. 

 

The US Head coach Mel Tjeerdsma discussed the difficulties and preparations it took to prepare the US national team for the championship. 

“It is a challenge to prepare in such a short amount of time, but I think all of the teams faced those same challenges. We have a great coaching staff and I think our coaches have done a tremendous job getting the players ready and our players are really cooperative. 

This is more than just an all-star team; we are trying to do as much as we possibly can to get a complete football team. I think our staff has done a great job in achieving that. 

We came here to defend our title, but we know the challenges. Each and every country has that goal and we have had about ten days together. Guys like Demetrius who have been here and they have expressed what it takes and I think that feeling has really bonded us together. And it will be interesting to see what happens.”

Coach Tjeerdsma also discussed that it has been a huge asset to have players who have experienced this before – including Demetrius Eaton who played in the 2007 IFAF Senior World Championship – as they were able to tell the team what to expect and the realize the tough competition that they will face. 

Eaton added, “I expect eight teams to put on a show for the fans. This is the fourth championship, and I expect the teams to come on firing on all cylinders. We all have prepared very hard and we are all ready to play these games.”

The United States will face Australia in the opening game of the IFAF Senior World Championship. Australia who traveled the farthest – took over 40 hours of traveling to arrive in Innsbruck – is led by head coach John Leijten.

Australia may be preserved as the underdogs but do not count the players from Down Under out as Coach Leijten says the team is made up of competitors with lots of spirit and do not shy away for challenges.

“Our guys are very motivated. When they found out the opening game was against the United States, they were excited. They want to compete with the best in the world. Football players by nature are very competitive human beings.

When you have to compete against teams like the United States and Canada, it is always going to be difficult. What we ask of our players is to play as hard, as fast, as long as they can. As long as very does a good job of competing. Our main goal is to compete and win as many games as possible.”

Running back Matt Croasdaile agrees with the coach and adds he thinks that the experience playing together will be a huge asset as the majority of the team have played with one another for close to two years.

“We have a tremendous amount of guys that have been playing together since the last games in the UK in 2009 and there is a solid core of guys. To coincide with that, we have been working with Coach Leijten for the past year and half, and he has really gotten us ready training. I am also playing with six guys from my club team. So overall we have a lot of experience playing together, and I think that puts us in a good place for the championship. “

“We have to set our goals high. We might be preserved as underdogs but we have a tremendous spirit. So we are setting our goals high and want to beat everyone we face and we’ll see how we do.

We don’t have a lot of game tape on us. People don’t know what we’ll come out with. And I think that is advantage. We can come out and surprise people. And we have nothing to lose and are very excited with the opportunity to play.”



The second game of the day will feature Mexico and Germany. And Mexico came with their game face on. They enter the tournament having reached the IFAF Senior World Championship Gold Medal game twice in 1999 and 2003. And this year, they feel is their time to shine and bring home the gold for Mexico.

Mexico’s linebacker coach Gabriel S├ínchez explained Mexico’s goals and how the team was selected.

“This is the third tournament that Mexico has participated in. And we have a great team, great players with NFL experience and Europe which is a huge advantage. We have a complete and focused team. We only have one goal and that is a championship.

In the past, we have lost twice to Japan. This team is pretty different. The selection process started eight months ago and in our country that is huge. We have never done it that way. We tried to combine NFL players and current league players. We have a balanced team.

Our strongest part is that we are together. The communication and the environment is huge.”
One of the players with NFL experience is Mauricio Lopez who explains the importance of the IFAF Senior World Championship to him and his team.

I think we have a same dream and one mission and play for one country. I feel great, because we play for our country and have the opportunity to play against other countries. This is the most important part for me and the other players. We want to change the opinion of American Football in Mexico and win a championship. The most popular sport is soccer, but I think this championship can show we have talent in American Football as well.”

With the conclusion of the press conference, one thing is sure…the teams are ready to play!! And that is just what they’ll do as the IFAF Senior World Championship kickoffs tomorrow, Friday, July 8 in Innsbruck, Austria!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Football Camp: Lagos

IFAF and Amobe Okoye Foundation welcomed over 200+ local American Football players to Lagos State Stadium for a day long flag football clinic.  The camp was an excellent opportunity for its newly trained African coaches to get their feet wet, and use the knowledge they've learned this week at the IFAF Coaching Clinic.  They represented well, mixing it up with NFL Players and IFAF Coaches.  Here's a few pictures from immediately following the event - much more to come from Africa! 

Coach Jim Barnes shows the way

Amobe Okoye

Frank Okam breaking 'em down

Willie Robinson leading a drill

Learning to throw is difficult - but we saw much progress!  In fact, the scoring for the Flag Football game opened with a 40 yard scoring strike -- the first in continental history?

Friday, March 18, 2011

IFAF Coaches Clinic: Lagos


Team IFAF held its first official American Football Coaching Clinic on the continent of Africa, welcoming over 20 local coaches from the city of Lagos, Nigeria to a 3-day clinic.  Coaches were versed on the rules of the game, positions, strategy, and fundamentals.  After two rigorous classroom sessions with Coach Jim Barnes, formerly of Augustana College, and Coach Willie Robinson of West Virginia Wesleyan, the coaches hit the field to put their knowledge into action.

Jack Reed, IFAF Development Manager, came away optimistic about the sessions, "The response from the coaches has been very encouraging. Their enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge of the game has made the last two days productive.  We are very excited about the future of American Football here in Nigeria."

Joining the coaches on the second day of camp were NFL Players Amobi Okoye and Connor Barwin from the Houston Texans, and Frank Okam of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Their first hand knowledge of the game helped bring the on-field portion to life.

In a twist that only happens on such international trips, a late addition added a little spice to the mix  - a potential coach discovered by the coaching staff at the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Lagos.  The man, who had previously spent 7 years in Germany and was familiar with the game, saw the coach's shirts and asked what they were doing in Nigeria.  A few minutes later, he was signed up for the clinic and just might prove to be a factor in shaping the game in Africa.
Nigerian Coaches listen intently as NFL Player Connor Barwin explains the game. Two coaches were so excited to see American Football equipment that they wore them for the duration of the three hour clinic. 
Coach Jim Barnes uses the 2008 Fiesta Bowl as a teaching tool to explain the game. Before the conference, just a handful of coaches had seen a college football game.
Coach Willie Robinson gave a fiery speech on Defense that appealed to the Nigerian coaches.


IFAF Development Manager Jack Reed welcomes Nigerian Coaches to the camp.
Coaches Manuals from USA Football proved to be an essential tool for explaining the game.
Starting from the basics, the 4-3 Defensive Alignment was used to discuss the different positions on defense and overall strategy.  Coach Willie Robinson spiced up the discussions by using visual analogies for each position, including a "Cash Cow" for the Rush Defensive End and "Man on an Island" for the Cornerbacks. 
Coach Jim Barnes lectures the importance of the quarterback position.

Amobe Okoye, who grew up in Nigeria, shows a local coach how to throw the football.

Nigeria Press Conference

Thursday, March 17, 2011

School & Clinic Visit

The mission of the Amobi Okoye Foundation and IFAF in Nigeria extends far beyond the football field, and on Monday team members traveled outside the city of Abuja to a small health clinic where a team of a dozen doctors were giving out free medical care.  Free cancer screenings, blood pressure readings, and medication distribution were just a few of the services offered.

An adjacent school led to an impromptu school visit, where NFL Players Amobi Okoye, James Ihedigbo, Connor Barwin, and Frank Okam chatted with the students and gave them an afternoon they won't soon forget.

Amobi Okoye speaks with local students outside of Abuja, Nigeria

Long before he took the field for the Houston Texans, Amobi was a student at a similar school in Nigeria.  The Defensive Lineman spent from birth to age twelve in his native land before moving to America.
The faces of Africa are unforgettable - such as this woman receiving medical attention from volunteer doctors

The school chalkboard displayed the Tower of Babel story as well as a lesson on Business Models - proving that the lack of air conditioning and power would not stop these determined students. 

Nigerian Federation Press Conference

Nigerian Minister of Sport dons the IFAF Helmet to mark the government's support for American Football in Nigeria, as presented by IFAF Treasurer Scott Hallenbeck







The National Sports Stadium Press Room in Abuja was packed for the press conference

IFAF's whirlwind tour of Nigeria continued with a large press conference at the National Sports Stadium in the capital city of Abuja.  The Minister of Sports in Nigeria proudly hosted the event, welcoming various local leaders, including those involved with growing sports at the grassroots level.
It was a key moment in the foundation of the sport in the Nigeria, as the event was aired live on television and publicly showed the government's support. "I am very familiar with American Football," said the Minister of Sport, "In fact, I attended Oklahoma State University. I'm a Cowboy!"

IFAF Treasurer Scott Hallenbeck greeted the crowd and assembled press, as well as made a ceremonial gift of an IFAF Helmet.  Amobi Okoye, whose work in the country through his own foundation has been well documented, presented the minister with a Houston Texans jersey.  The partnership between the Amobi Okoye Foundation and IFAF has created a strong team with a common goal of launching the sport.
"I'm a Cowboy!"  IFAF has a great ally for American Football with the Nigerian Minister of Sport - who proudly declared his own affinity for the game by proclaiming the mascot of his alma mater, Oklahoma State University.

IFAF and Amobe Okoye Foundation representatives pose with local leaders after the meeting