Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Five Year Rule

Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Back in 2016 I was offered and accepted the Head Coaching position with a team in Poland.

The team was located in the
Baltic Sea coast city of  Gdańsk

The Wikingowie (Vikings) were a promising second year club who had over 50 players on their inaugural roster in 2015.

I liked everything about the team's representatives during the recruitment process and the club's outlook for the season, it was a good fit in my opinion.

Then, about three weeks before my scheduled flight to Gdańsk, the Polish Federation booted the club from the Polish League for their failure to pay all of their 2015 dues to the Federation.

The club thus folded and I was out of a job in 2016.

Or so I thought . . .

Sweden's Wäsby Warriors, located about 20 miles north of Stockholm, soon took me on for a May-June job in their off-season to teach fundamentals to their players and coach their coaches. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my EuroBall coaching career. The Warriors liked it so much that they asked me back again to do the same job in May-June of 2017.

The word about my exciting but somewhat off-beat job with the Warriors reached the ears of Enrique Martín Alonso, the General Manager of the Osos Rivas team located in the suburbs of Madrid, Spain. While visiting Barcelona for a few days at the end of my 2016 stay with the Warriors, Enrique and I met to discuss what happened with the Warriors. He loved the idea and offered me the same mentoring spot with the Osos during their pre-season training during October-November of 2016.

We lived near Madrid for two months
coaching not only the Osos . . .

. . . but also their DIII farm team

We were coaching the Osos two nights a week and would drive 35 miles to the north of Madrid to the quaint city of Guadalajara for another two practices on our Osos off days. It was a busy time to be sure.

Thus 2016 saw us enjoying four months coaching the sport we love with wonderful players and coaches in Sweden and Spain with the chance to enjoy two of Europe's greatest cities, Stockholm and Madrid, on an almost daily basis.

Now, while 2016 wound up being a great overall experience for us, it did get me to thinking about what had not come to fruition in Gdańsk. It led me to the creation of "The Five Year Rule."

The rule simply states that as a potential EuroBall player or coach, one should be leery about entering into any contract negotiations with a club that has been in existence for less than five years. Although the people involved with a relatively new team may be sincere, honest and with lofty goals, the harsh economic and competitive realities of EuroBall may still overwhelm them.

This was certainly the case with the good people that I met while speaking with the Wikingowie brass.

Fast forwarding to 2018 in Italy . . .

The Lazio Ducks were formed in 2018

This new Italian DI team based in Rome was formed via the merger of two former DI teams, the Roma Grizzlies and the Lazio Marines.

The Ducks Head Coach that season was none other than our good friend Bart Iaccarino. We met Bart, an Italian from Sorrento, when we both coached in Spain in 2015. We have since coached together on six other occasions with the Europe Warriors and Brasil Onças and had discussed all sorts of American football related topics over the years.

I was coaching the Varese Skorpions in 2018 and towards the end of the Ducks' inaugural season they had a game in nearby Bergamo which Laurie and I attended.

We talked with Bart before the game and I asked him how things were going. His four word response was "The Five Year Rule."

Bart was back again in Spain the next season coaching Barcelona's L'Hospitalet Pioners to the Spanish DII National Championship.

Another victim of the dreaded
"Five Year Rule"

The European League of Football started play in 2021 with a modest eight teams.

The next season, the ELF expanded to 12 franchises total with the Istanbul Rams being one of the four new 2022 franchises.

In 2023, the ELF added another six clubs creating a three conference, 18 team circuit.

About two months before the start of the 2023 campaign, the Istanbul Rams announced that due to financial hardships, they were dropping out of the league for 2023 while trying to regroup for a new ELF run in 2024. 

This decision left the ELF with scheduling issues with now only 17 teams for 2023.

Unfortunately, "The Five Year Rule" struck again.

Then, this week, this happened . . .

One of the original eight
franchises informed the ELF that they
may be forced to drop out mid-season
due to financial concerns

In 2021, this east German club finished in third place in the ELF's Northern Conference with a 5-5 record.

The 2022 ELF season was a tough one for the Kings going 4-8 with a fourth place finish in the ELF Northern Conference.

So far in 2023, the Kings are a respectable 2-2, tied for third place in the ELF's Eastern Conference. Leipzig's two wins though have come at the expense of two 2023 ELF expansion teams, the 0-3 Prague Lions and the 0-4 Fehérvár Enthroners.

The ELF's goal of becoming Europe's super league of American football at a completely professional basis has been considered lofty goal by many in the know to say the least. With 17 teams located in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and Switzerland, the cost of travel, housing and salaries with somewhat limited funding streams is a serious issue for all ELF clubs.

"The Five Year Rule" may be rearing its ugly head once again I believe.

Just saying . . .

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Another Day, Another Italian Sport Judge's Interesting Decision

Mon.-Tues., June 26-27, 2023 

We focus today on the Wonderful World of the Federazione Italians di American Football (FIDAF) and their ability to make thought provoking decisions.

To review, last Saturday in FIDAF's CIF-9 (DIII) Northern Conference Championship Game between the visiting Brescia Bengals and the Castelfranco Cavaliers, a weird set of circumstances unfolded.

Brescia Bengals 
7 Wins - 0 Losses
2023 Results
Bengals 61 - Monza Brianza Hammers (1-5) 0
Bengals 56 - Milano Rams (6-2) 21
Bengals 54 - Varese Gorillas (0-6) 7
Bengals 42 - Cagliari Crusaders (3-3) 36
Bengals 62 - Varese Gorillas (0-6) 0
Bengals 52 - Monza Brianza Hammers (1-5) 8
*Bengals 28 - Busto Arsizio Blue Storm (7-1) 24
*CIF-9 Northern Conference Semi-Final Game

The high scoring Bengals had to drive about 160km/100 miles East into the Veneto region to play the game.

Castelfranco Cavaliers 
7 Wins - 0 Losses
2023 Results
Cavaliers 23 - Basiliano Leoni (3-4) 7
Cavaliers 13 - Trento Thunders (4-3) 9
Cavaliers 35 - Bolzano Giants (2-4) 6
Cavaliers 34 - Isonzo Sentinels (2-4) 21
Cavaliers 41 - Trieste Muli (1-5) 6
Cavaliers 42 - Basiliano Leoni (3-4) 7
*Cavaliers 43 - Milano Rams (6-2) 21  
*CIF-9 Northern Conference Semi-Final Game

This looked to be a really competitive game for the Northern Conference Championship.

These same two clubs were undefeated when they met in the 2022 Northern Conference Championship Game with the Bengals (8-1) beating the Cavaliers (6-1), 31-24.

The Bengals suffered their only loss of the season in the Nine Bowl three weeks later to the Southern Conference Champion Romagna Roosters by a final tally of 42-35.

As to Saturday's events, in the First Quarter, with the score 0-0, two players were injured and needed to be taken to the hospital via the mandatory ambulance that must be on hand at all Italian games regardless of the level of play.

FIDAF rules state that when this type of situation occurs, the game must be halted until the ambulance returns. FIDAF further states that if the ambulance does not return within 45 minutes, the home team forfeits the contest.

The problem on this day was that the ambulance never returned.

Clearly, by FIDAF rule, the home team Cavaliers would have to forfeit the game to the Bengals. The Cavaliers protested given the importance of the game between two 7-0 teams vying for the right to go to the National Championship Nine Bowl XXIII. Additionally, the Nine Bowl is not being played until July 7th meaning that the game could be resumed next weekend.

The game was thus referred to FIDAF's mysterious Sports Judge to adjudicate a fair, sane and impartial decision.

The decision was . . .

. . . FIDADF Rules are

The Brescia Bengals (8-0) were awarded an 8-0 forfeit victory over the ambulanceless Castelfranco Cavaliers (7-1).

The 8-0 score is FIDAF's final score in all games that are forfeited.

The Nine Bowl XXIII is set for
Friday, July 7th in Reggio Emilia's
Stadio Mirabello at 8:30 p.m.

The now 8-0 Brescia Bengals will play our first ever EuroBall club (2008 and 2009), the 7-1 Catania Elephants.

The Silver Bowl XXIX game which is
the DII Championship Game will be
played in the same stadium at
8:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 8th

This should be a great game too, as the 9-0 Ferrera Aquile take on the also 9-0 Bergamo Lions.

The Lions played in the 2022 Silver Bowl losing to our beloved Varese Skorpions 35-21.

Meanwhile, in Switzerland . . .

Our 2012 team, the Thun Tigers
are seen here in the black jerseys

This past weekend the Tigers (7-3) played their last game of the NFLA (DI) Swiss season, at home, against the Zurich Renegades (8-2), with a 20-12 loss suffered without the services of the Tigers longtime starting QB Nicolas Leibundgut.

Nicholas was an outstanding QB with our Junior team back in 2012 and has been the Senior team's QB ever since.

The Tigers and the Renegades will
meet again in the Swiss Bowl XXXVII

On July 8th, the #1 seeded Calanda Broncos (9-1) will host the #4 seeded Geneva Seahawks (5-5) in one Semi-Final game while the #3 seeded Thun Tigers (7-3) will travel cross country to again play the #2 seeded Zurich Renegades (8-2).

If the Tigers can get their QB back, I think that they would have a great chance to advance to the Swiss Bowl XXXVII played in the city of Grenchen on July 15th.

And then there is the Irish . . .

Team Turkey vs. the Irish Wolfhounds

This Group B contest is part of the same International Federation of American Football's (IFAF) qualifying tournament for the 2024 World Championship to be played in Germany.

Our Brasil Onças National Team is also trying to qualify for the World Championships via our Americas Tournament with Chile, Colombia and Panama in December.

Finally, a thought from the internet . . .

Absolutely, 100% . . .

Monday, June 26, 2023

Continuing to Drift on the River of Life . . .

Tues.-Sun., June 20-25, 2023

An overall routine week, save for . . .

Sunday's Dance Recital at . . .

. . . Camarillo's Rancho Campana H.S.'s
beautiful Theater Arts facility
Princess Mary was ready to take
part in another top notch production

Princess Mary with the hills
of Camarillo in the background

Part of Mary's Fan Club were
happily in attendance

Mary is the performer on
the far left of this video

I thought that she was GREAT!

She was quite happy
with her performance

We were quite proud of
her in return

Mary and her family

Jacob, back at home after
the performance, showing off
his latest aircraft model from WWII,
the Memphis Belle, a B-17  Flying Fortress

Sunday was a good day.

Most of the week was spent driving to Pasadena to visit my Mother and, of course, continuing my research on good lunch time restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area.
The Pastrami Sandwich at
The Oinkster located at
2005 Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock
was a solid choice
The Oinkster's Garlic Parmesan
Tater Tots were AWESOME!

As for my Mother, her health continues to rise and fall almost daily but overall she seems to be doing well.

Our daily Dominoes Tournaments marked the end of their seventh week on Friday. Over the now nearly two months of play, we have had several nurses and residents stop by the facility's Rec Room asking about our games. I explained the rudiments to them stressing the simplicity of the games and how it has made my Mother really focus mentally and visually during our daily 90 minutes of "fierce" competition. At nearly 99 years of age, she still does not like to lose.

I found out this week, that after watching us play, the facility's Activities Director had incorporated Dominoes Tournaments to the general population and that they loved it!

In case you are keeping score at home, this week my Mother won 51 of the 96 games we played.

I was able to save some face by beating her in points 963-897. The points are a tally that goes to the game winner based on the value of the unplayed dominoes that the loser still has in their hand at game's end.

The weekend's EuroBall updates . . .

The Catania Elephants, in white,
playing on their state-of-the-art,
plush home field

This photo is from the Elephants Italian CIF-9 (DIII) Southern Conference Semi-Final Playoff game the week before against the feared Formigine Honey Badgers.

The Elephants' (6-1) 57-28 victory put our old team in . . .

. . . the CIF-9 Southern Conference
Championship Game against the
Pesaro Angels (6-1)

It must be noted that the "9" in CIF-9 stands for the nine-man brand of American football, played on a slightly smaller field, that Italy plays at the DIII level.

Italy does play eleven-man football on the DI and DII levels.
The Elephants on a romp to their
seventh straight victory

A happy group of Elephants after
the game with the Southern Conference
Championship firmly in hand

The question is who do they play next
for the National Championship
in Nine Bowl XXIII on July 7th?

In ever so typical Italian fashion, the answer is,
"Who knows?"

Last Saturday, in what should have been a real slobber-knocker of a Northern Conference Championship Game, the Castelfranco Cavaliers (7-0) were hosting the Brescia Bengals (7-0).

Early in the game, with the score 0-0, a player was injured and had to be taken to the hospital via the ambulance that was stationed by the field as required by the safety rules of the game in Italy.

The safety rules further state that the game can not be resumed until the ambulance returns to the game.

On Saturday, the ambulance never did return to the game.

If memory serves me correctly, which it rarely does any more, after a specified amount of time of about 45 minutes, if there is no ambulance on site, the home team has to forfeit the game.

The result of the game is now in the hands of the FIDAF, the national governing body for American football, Sports Judge who will decide what to do next.

As there are no games scheduled next weekend in either DII or CIF-9, the easiest and fairest thing to me for a game of this magnitude would be to resume play from where they left off next weekend.

In the wonderful world of Italian bureaucracy, things are rarely get resolved easily and fairly.

There is one Italian IFL (DI) game scheduled next weekend but it is not being contested in Italy.

The Hype is getting bigger daily
on the internet for the IFL's
Italian Bowl XLII . . .

. . . which will be played in Toledo,
Ohio on Saturday, July 1st bewteen
the #2 seeded Firenze Guelfi (8-1)
and the #1 seeded Parma Panthers (8-1)

The Panthers won the regular season game between these two traditional IFL powerhouses, 25-7, in Firenze on April 22nd.

The Varese Skorpions had their season ending BBQ this past weekend that included handing out their individual awards.

Ema is a tough RB who had to
overcome injuries the past few seasons

Davide has really blossomed into
an outstanding DE vs. both the
run and the pass

This was GREAT to see!

Ema, Davide and Nicolas were all a joy to coach, great players and even better people off of the gridiron.

So happy and proud for all
three of these men

The Skorpions have undergone major personnel changes, as one would suspect, since my last season with them in the Covid-19 ruined 2020 season.

Nicolas, Davide and Ema were all with us on the 2018 team, my first year in Varese.

It was good to see them all still performing at a high level this year.

In an all French final, Paris'
La Courneuve Flash edged the
Thonon Black Panthers

It was a great accomplishment for the Flash, winning the 18th edition of the Central European Football League tournament that brings together the best teams in Europe.

Unfortunately, the creation of the European League of Football in 2021, has taken some of the luster off of the CEFL championship trophy.

Speaking of the ELF . . .

Only two surprises really

The Stuttgart Surge's (3-0) 6-3 victory over the Tirol Raiders (3-1) was a stunner artistically in what has been a high scoring ELF season.

The expansion Munich Ravens (2-1) road win, 39-15, over the Barcelona Dragons (2-2) was a shocker on two levels for me.

First, it was upsetting to see our favorite ELF club, the Dragons, lose and drop to 2-2 on the campaign.

Second was seeing any expansion team, indeed any expansion team, win a game this season.

For the 2023 season, the ELF added six new expansion teams. The six clubs are the Fehérvár Enthroners (0-4), the Helvetic Guards (0-4), the Milano Seamen (1-2), the surprising Munich Ravens (2-1), the Paris Musketeers (1-3) and the Prague Lions (0-3).

These six 2023 ELF expansion teams are a combined 4-17. Not good.

The Rhein Fire lead the
West comfortably over the
Frankfurt Galaxy

The Stuttgart Surge lead the
Central after beating the second
place Tirol Raiders on Sunday

The defending ELF Vienna Vikings
sit atop the East with the much
improved Wroclaw Panthers in second

Saturday, July 1, 2023
Cologne Centurions (1-3) at Frankfurt Galaxy (2-1)
Helvetic Guards (0-4) at Rhein Fire (4-0)
Hamburg Sea Devils (2-2) at Paris Musketeers (1-3)

Sunday, July 2, 2023
Berlin Thunder (2-2) at Leipzig Kings (2-2)
Stuttgart Surge (3-0) at Munich Ravens (2-1)
Milano Seamen (1-2) at Tirol Raiders (3-1)
Prague Lions (0-3) at Wroclaw Panthers (3-1)
Vienna Vikings (3-0) at Fehérvár Enthroners (0-4)

WEEK #5 BYE: Barcelona Dragons (2-2)

We leave you with this provocative idea from this week's internet . . .