Team Tunisia earns historic win

American football may be virtually unknown in Tunisia but Team Tunisia, the country’s first ever national team is already historic.

Coached by European veteran and arguably the longest active football coach in Germany, Cevin Conrad, the Carthage Eagles (Tunisia’s national team) took on the Saint Denis Monarchs (Ile-de-France regional championship semi-finalists) at the Stade Delaune ground in Paris and whipped them 42-0.

Not bad for a country without a league.

Although the game is still in its infancy in Tunisia, it has a fan base that is growing, seemingly the day due to the popularity of the NFL.

But the team is made up of Tunisian ex-pats who came together from all over the world thanks to the efforts of Amine Ben Abdelkarim a Tunisian football player living in France and playing for the Kiowas de Garches. A year and a half ago, Abdelkarim teamed up with fellow Tunisian Walid Letaief who was playing in Germany, to form the Association Tunisienne de Football Américain (Tunisian American Football Association) in 2016, based in Paris.

Since then the pair have tracked down and recruited Tunisians who play football in various countries. They then enlisted the aid of Cevin Conrad and his coaching staff to coach them in their inaugural game against the Monarchs. The 51 year old Conrad has been coaching in Germany since 1989 guiding the Bielefeld Bulldogs, Paderborn Dolphins, Cologne Falcons, Langenfeld Longhorns, Hamm Aces, Solingen Paladins and the German Junior National Team.

Conrad:

“This was a lot of fun and the fastest I have ever had to install and offense and defense in my life. We spent a total of two days from first ever walk through to the game and somehow it worked.”

The adjustment was not without its challenges though. According to Conrad, when his quarterback missed a wide open receiver in the end zone early in the game and was questioned about it he said he hadn’t seen him at all. He had only played nine-man football before so only saw two receivers.

When the team took the field against the Monarchs they were fully fitted out thanks to Abdelkarim ‘s hard work and all flew into Paris two days before the game at their own expense. Conrad and his staff arrived and history was made.

The next step will be to take the challenge to neighboring African countries such as Morocco, Egypt and Algeria. Plans are being laid for a game against Morocco and the association is applying to become a member of IFAF as well.

AFI
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