5 Questions For Dutch Lions Head Coach Rey Agaoglu

As the Dutch Lions prepare to take on Team Ireland Saturday in an international friendly in Waalwijk, the Netherlands, Ferry Jainathsingh sat down with Holland’s head coach Rey Agaoglu.

With several players still fighting for a spot on the roster Coach Agaoglu offered some insight into what will need to get done before the Lions travel to England for the European Championship qualifying tournament in September.

Jainathsingh: How did you get into the world of American football?

Agaoglu: I was born in the Netherlands but when I was 9 we moved to Canada. In Canada I got to know the world of American football. In North America, football is really a part of the culture, similar to our soccer culture here in the Netherlands. I was impressed with the sport and thought, ‘Wow, I want to be part of that’.

Football is more than just catching or throwing a ball. It’s a tough sport, you really struggle, the strategic aspect is great. The sport makes me so passionate that you can say that football is my religion. It’s hard for me to express what football means to me. In Canada, I played high school and college football. From 1996 to 2001 I played in NFL Europe for the Amsterdam Admirals.

Jainathsingh: What is the biggest difference between football in the Netherlands and North America?

Agaoglu: In North America, football does not exist at a recreational level. Regardless of the level, high school, college or the pros, everyone puts in 100% effort. The combination of football and school ensures that players can focus completely on football. When you’re at school you have no excuse not to show up at practice.

Football is a lifestyle! Football is something you do on and off the field.

Jainathsingh: Why did you choose this challenge?

Agaoglu: In 2013 I became involved with the Dutch Lions program. Winston Ronde was the head coach at the time. I was involved as a defensive back coach. When Winston Ronde stepped down as the head coach, they felt that I was the best candidate. My biggest drive was that there was a good base from previous years. Both within the organization and the players selection. It would have been a shame if it would fall apart. With the developments within the Dutch Lions program, my role as head coach was the most logical step.

Jainathsingh: What are the best developments so far?

Agaoglu: The squad has a talented group of players who understand what is required to achieve a higher level. This group is growing and growing. At the start of the training camps I was wondering what the level of the players would be. It was very nice that we could continue where we left off last year after the game against Belgium. It has been quite a while since we were on the field together.

Jainathsingh: What are your expectations for the upcoming games?

Agaoglu: Against Ireland we want to give our starters some game rhythm for the European Championship qualifier. There are still a lot of open spots on our final roster. Who is going to claim those spots? Some position groups are very close. Who is going to fight for it? Can the players deal with the pressure and the atmosphere of such a big game?

Regarding the qualifying tournament; we want to win.

This is not a fun school trip. I believe that we can achieve a good result. Given the development of the team and the players we have, we owe it to ourselves.