Argentinian Making Name In American Football In Brazil

Thirty-one year old Argentinian Pablo Blanch is garnering a great deal of attention in Brazil playing American football with the Minas Locomotiva. The Pergamino (Buenos Aires) native now lives in Belo Horizonte, Brasil and learned the sport on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

Since taking up the sport eight years ago, Blanch first impressed playing for the Ipanema Tatuis (2010-2011) before joining the Locomotiva in 2013.

“I had a very low knowledge of football. We used to love imagining that we would play it with my friends. It was a mixture of all the sports I loved. It was perfect”.

Originally recruited by the Locomotiva to play defensive tackle, Blanch has now moved to the offensive line. His ultimate goal he says is to play for Argentina’s national team, the Halcones.

According to AFI’s Clayton Lovett, who coaches in Brazil and knows that game in that country better than most, Pablo Blanch is an excellent international ambassador for American football:

Pablo Blanch is the type of guy that teams can and should build around on the international “start up football” level. Pablo genuinely loves playing football, and the Locomotiva organization, and demonstrates that by doing many of the “little things” it takes to help his team both on and off the field; he’s the type of guy that will pick up coaches at the airport. Pablo’s love of football is contagious. He is one of the “good guys” in this sport in Brazil. Pablo represents Argentina well. We are lucky He Is a part of brazilian football.nbsp;

Recently, Argentina’s leading American football website, FAA Argentina, caught up with Pablo. 

-FAA: First of all, first of all, please introduce yourself, how you got to Brazil, so we can get to know you a little bit more.

PABLO BLANCH: I am Pablo Blanch, I am 31 years old, from Pergamino, province of Buenos Aires., I am a computer technician and I have an ecommerce degree from FA here in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. I came to live in Brazil when I married my wife Vanessa, she is Brazilian. We lived in Rio, then in Mozambique, Africa and before our daughter Nina was born, we came to live in Belo Horizonte, my wife’s hometown.

FAA: Now, once you settled there, how did you start playing American Football, in what team, and from what region?

PB: I was in Rio one day at the beach and I saw a pack of crazy people killing themselves in the sand, I thought it was sand rugby, that’s why I came to see them, and by my size, one of them quickly approached me to invite me to play, It was beach football, without pads or helmets.. I got to know the Ipanema Tatuis team, and with them I practiced for more than a year and we won the Saquarema Bowl, a summer championship in the city of Saquarema. Unfortunately, I had to leave them when I went to live in Africa, but as soon as I returned, shortly after arriving in Belo Horizonte, I checked on Facebook to see if there was something and I found full pad tryouts were to be held. I enrolled right away and I had the good fortune to be able to play to play within a month of having entered. I’ve been with them for over two years now.

FAA: Did you have any previous knowledge of American football? Or have you ever seen a match on TV?

PB: A little, but with a friend we always dreamed of playing it, it was a mixture of all the sports that I like, it was perfect.

FAA: What was your first impression of the sport? Were you already accustomed to high impact sports and competition?

PB: Well yes, I played rugby a little bit in Argentina, but I was always a basketball player. I played since I was 5 years old, on several teams and different competitions. My first impression was the expected, love at first sight, I can not imagine playing anything else now.

FAA: In what positions have you tried, what is your favorite, and what have you achieved?

PB: In the arena as well as for the Mine Locomotiva I played defensive tackle, but a year ago I switched to offensive guard and I like that much more, I feel better.

FAA: How did your family and friends feel about your immersion into this new sport?

PB: Well, my wife loves it and she understands it enough, we watch a lot of NFL and even has displaced the traditional soccer in the hour of the priorities in the TV. My friends also support me a lot and go whenever they can, even my Argentinian friends who live here.

FAA: In Brazil, how much importance and relevance do you think has the sport gained in Brazil in general and more specifically in the region you live in?

PB: It’s the fastest growing sport, it’s getting more and more popular and the NFL is already looking to bring the Pro Bowl next year. There are over 150 teams and they play all 3 modes (Flag / No-Pads/ Fullpads ). ESPN audiences have increased a lot and there are already specialized journalists, it’s getting better and better. We do not know where this is going to end, because the projections are scary. Many teams already have Americans playing and coaches as well. I was lucky enough to play against Nic Harris, an ex-NFL player.

FAA: Could you give us a summary of how the American Football league is structured in Brazil?

PB: This is the first year of the SuperLiga, three leagues were merged into one and a super competitive league of 30 teams was formed divided into 4 divisions equal to the NFL. A B league was also formed with the same structure and there will be relegations and promotions between these two. In addition, Brazilian State (Provincial) championships are played, and this year we had the honor of playing the final at the Mineirão and winning the championship with 10,000 people watching. It was unforgettable.

FAA: Over the years, how has your life changed around American football?

PB: Weekends are strictly on the team and what is left is for my family, impossible to do without a wife who supports you and I want to take this opportunity to thank you, she is a genius! Many players have separated from their wives/girlfriends due to the team, while others have left the team, a pity. Also at the level that we play you cannot play without training, so I train in the gym between 3 and 5 times a week. That was a big change.

FAA: Did you ever know, while you were in Argentina, that there was an American Football league? What do you know about the league?

PB: Yes, but on TV, once they went on Telefe or 13, I do not remember. I know what you see on your official website, I always try to follow it and see some game of the selection by Youtube, I dream of defending Argentina’s colors someday.

FAA: What do you think differs from the Brazilian league? Also, what things do you think strengthen the league in Brazil, what should Argentina have?

PB: I know little, but the big difference would be the number of teams. That clearly helps a lot to develop the sport and attract more players. And here is a law of incentive to the sport where the companies instead of paying the taxes, they give the money to the teams and that helps a lot.

FAA: What are your goals in the short, medium and long term?

PB: Short: Train more and reach my weight and optimal state for my position.
Medium: Play the Playoffs this year in the Super League.
Long: Play some day with the Argentina National Team.

FAA: Do you have the illusion of ever being able to represent Argentina in an international match?

PB: If yes, illusion, dream, goal of life. I love my country as nothing in the world and every time I start a party here and put the Brazilian anthem, I close my eyes and sing my hymn inside.

FAA: Have you thought about returning to Argentina at some point, to be part of the league, either one the field or off?

PB: Yes, we always think with my wife to live there, you have to give several things, but of course I want to live there.

FAA: To sum up, what advice could you give to all those who think about starting this sport, those who are just beginning, and those who have been playing for some time in the Argentine league?

PB: I would tell them to train every day, because while it is the most tactical and technical sport in the world, it is also the most physical. It is very difficult to get far without being 100% physically, the whole team, here we always say that “The strength of the team is measured by its weakest player”, because no matter what 10 players do well, if one errs there is no play that works , So it is with American Football, one play at a time, one yard at a time.

AFI
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