2012 EFL and EFAF Cup promise tough competition

Category: EFL - published 2011-11-09 by EFAF

Groupings for EFAF's two European-wide club competitions, the EFL and EFAF Cup, have been set at the club's meeting at Thonon-les-Bains, and 2012 will see the return of the Finnish champion to the race for Eurobowl as well as the debut of a Polish team in EFAF Cup. The Helsinki Wolverines are bound to try to surprise Europe as they did in the national championship at home this year, when they topped their third-place regular season finish by upsets in the semifinals and the Maple Bowl - a streak that led them straight into European competition. In total 12 nations will be represented by one or more clubs in the club competitions.

For Poland Wroclaw made the first entry into the EFAF Cup, after Polish clubs debuted some time ago in the regional Challenge Cup, certainly time has come for that nation's elite teams to prove their progress on a higher level of competition. As the core of European american football strongholds is located in Central Europe, with the three medal winners of the last European Championships also fielding the highest numbers of teams in the 2012 club competitions (Austria five, Germany and France three each), it certainly makes sense especially for their neighbouring countries to embrace the possibility of serious competition with the top teams from there which EFAF is providing by staging EFL and EFAF Cup.

It is of no co-incidence that the line of nations with the most visible progresses in playing skills over the past years field more and more clubs capable of competing on the European stage. Spain already has three teams that build up EFL and/or EFAF Cup traditions, Denmark will join the Czech Republic next year in the ranks of nations with two clubs in European competitions, as last year's EFAF Cup semifinalist Sollerod will be joined by its defeater in the Danish Mermaid Bowl Triangle Razorbacks. For all of the smaller countries like Switzerland or Denmark or those with comparatively less american football tradition like Spain, Czechia or Poland it is of great importance to have the chance to compete in non-friendly games against GFL or AFL top clubs.

Unlike in Germany, Austria or France the national competition still is not too fierce in the domestic leagues of a number of European countries. Clubs are being founded everywhere, but it takes time until a set of six, eight or even more really competitive teams for a constantly challenging national league format has developed. To add some international games to the schedule is of tremendous help for the most advanced clubs in this process, usually those gathering the most-profiled players of the whole country. And these athletes later on tend to return back to their hometowns propelling other clubs with their experience. Thus the benefits of EFAF's club competitions are not limited to the here and now and only for the participating clubs, but certainly will have a long-term effect in spreading the word about american football to a lot more regions in the years ahead.

The history of European club competitions dates back to 1986, when the first tournament for Eurobowl was held at Amsterdam. And it is full of examples of how long-sighted managements within clubs or member federations used it to spark the overall progress of their programmes. Finland's European reign of the 80's and 90's might well be traced back to the victory of the first tournament by the then-Finnish champion. Germany's rise to the top of Europe certainly was connected to that special European perspective promoters in some of Germany's major cities developed in the late 90's. And this as well served as stimulus for Austrian clubs to adopt the concept and help them to equal Germany's record of seven Eurobowl championships up to now. With the same spirit endorsed today in nations like Spain, Denmark, Poland, Czechia and many others not only the future of EFAF's club competitions seems bright but the future of European american football as a whole.

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