Saturday, July 9, 2011

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!

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