Poland’s Tychy Falcons tested against Europe’s finest, the Dacia Vienna Vikings
The Tychy Falcons have moved up to the top division in Poland this year and have taken a cross border approach to preparing for the season. The Falcons, under head coach Lonnie Hursey. traveled into the “Lions Den” to practice and scrimmage against one of Europe’s top teams and programs, the Dacia Vienna Vikings.
This was not the first time Hursey has prepared his squad by practicing against top flight competition. While still in Poland’s second division last year, he took his team to Wroclaw to spend a weekend preparing against the eventual Polish and European champions the Wroclaw Panthers.
We asked Lonnie the reasoning behind this and also how the camp went this past weekend.
American Football International: Whose idea was it to take on a powerhouse like the Vienna Vikings?
Lonnie Hursey: Last year I wanted to scrimmage and go to camp vs a team that is supposed to be much better than us and since we were in PLFA1 at the time the Panthers were the logical choice. They are the top team in Poland and won the champions league as well. I never believe in scrimmaging teams who you are much better than because if you want to get better you need to play better competition. This year we play in the top league after winning the PLFA1 championship I I have known Mike Latek for a couple years when we were on the 1st Polish National team staff together. He runs DL University and is the best DL coach in all of Europe so he was my contact and just asked if they would be interested in hosting us for a camp and scrimmage at the end of it.
AFI: How many players traveled?
Hursey: We traveled with 54 guys I think plus 6 coaches. Everyone was excited from the day we announced it in October.
AFI: How many days was it?
Hursey: We left Friday night and it was two practices on Saturday and two on Sunday. The second was a short scrimmage where they Vikings invited fans and had a BBQ.
AFI: How did the scrimmage go?
Hursey: The scrimmage and entire camp went great for us. It was exactly what we were hoping for. We did not keep score but in those two days we competed against the best in Europe.
AFI: What did you get out of it?
Hursey: My goal for the team was for them to see what it was like to play against the best and what it takes to be in that situation. My other goal was that if we could compete, make plays and build confidence then no one will be able to intimidate us because there is no team in our league that is on the Vikings level. Very few teams in Europe move up to the top league in their country and do well. Usually there is a learning curve and some growing pains. I know in Norway once the Kristiansand Gladiators played in the finals in their first season in the top league under coach Dan Levy. I’m sure it has happened another time or two but it’s a different level of competition when a team moves up.
AFI: What was the difference, if any, in the caliber of play?
Hursey: The level of play is very high in Austria and that is why Austria and Germany are considered by everyone as the two best leagues in Europe with the best teams. They are what every team should strive to be… The Best!! I wanted our guys to see that.
All in all it was a great camp we had 0 injuries and now with two weeks to go we are going to start preparing for our home opener against the perennial playoff team the Warsaw Eagles.