Central European Football League teams: Calanda Broncos of Switzerland

When talking about American football in Switzerland, the Calanda Broncos always come first to mind. With nine championship titles under their belt, and one EuroBowl title among other titles, Calanda has always been one of the top teams in Europe. And, this year, they’re joining the Central European Football League, CEFL tournament.

Dani Zinsli of the Broncos took the time to share their team story!

Beginnings

The founders of the Calanda Broncos were a group of three guys who were filled with football fever after watching live games in the USA. They were so excited about it that they decided to start a team in Switzerland. On May 25, 1991 it was time. About 20 people took part at the initial meeting in Landquart. After that, they have put in a lot of effort to recruit players at events or in the street.

It was not that easy, since only about 60,000 people live in that particular valley in the Alps.

Nevertheless, the number of players grew steadily. At first, the Broncos played in Landquart. But soon they realized that there was more audience and sponsor potential in nearby Chur. Therefore, they moved to the capital Chur, the oldest city in Switzerland.

Since then, the Broncos have played at the foot of Calanda mountain, which later became the club;s name. What emerged from an idea of ​​a small group is today a widely respected association with about 200 members.

Gearing Up

Initially, training was organized based on football literature. No one had ever played American football before. Therefore, it was not surprising that the Broncos lost all their games in their first season. Nevertheless, the Broncos trained hard and never gave up. The winter training sessions in deep snow are still unforgettable, plus there was no gym available. In 1993, it was time and the Broncos were able to get the first victory in the club’s history. This was celebrated like a championship title.

Competing

The Broncos hired their first American coach in 1994. And results started showing. The team established itself in the NLC (3rd division) and was promoted to the NLB (2nd division).

Years after that, success went up steeply: Commitment of the first import player and promotion to NLA in 1996. The blood and sweat began to pay dividends and in 1998, only seven years after founding the team, the
Landquart Broncos reached the Swissbowl for the first time. The team lost 14-13, missing the winning FG seconds before the end.

One year later, the Broncos lost the Swissbowl again in front of home crowd in Chur. The third attempt, in 2003, brought the Broncos their first league title in club history.

After 15 years of steady success – team’s first fall came in 2005. After losing a lot of starters, the Broncos were relegated back to the NLB. Even in this difficult time, the Broncos held together and succeeded in the 2007 season to get the re-promotion to the NLA. In the first NLA season in 2008, the Broncos, as promoted team, reached the Swissbowl. Since then, the Calanda Broncos have reached the Swissbowl 11 straight seasons, winning it nine times, making them the most successful team in Switzerland.

Internationally, the Broncos were able to celebrate considerable success. With the victory in the EFAF Cup in 2010 and the victory in the Eurobowl in 2012, they were at the top of European American Football. In 2013, they dropped out in the semifinals off the EFL, and in 2014, the Broncos participated as one of the founding teams in the newly founded Big6 tournament.

From that point forward, the Broncos focused increasingly on the Swiss championship and on building an equally powerful squad with more local players. Therefore the Broncos waived the participation in European tournaments.

Work with the domestic players has paid off. In 2018, Calanda felt strong enough to be a part of a European League again. After a dramatic 33-31 loss to the Potsdam Royals from the German Football league, the Broncos missed the EFL final. Now, the Calanda Broncos are ready to battle for the CEFL crown in 2019.

The People

All the success throughout the years is due to the loyal fans and players. Since the population in the Chur Rhine Valley is not high, many local players come from different valleys. Making it a well-functioning team is not easy. Nevertheless, the club always manages to maintain the team spirit.

In addition, club was always run by people who gave both their heart and time. One of the most important mottos of the Calanda Broncos is “Whatever it takes“. Take on any challenge. No matter how difficult it seems. This is also why the team took the challenge of being the first Swiss team playing against a US college team. Of course, Broncos had no chance to win that one. But, playing internationally has made the team stronger.

Community

One of the goals is to get more young people to play sports. Therefore, the club offers free football lessons to schools. Coaches and players visit the schools and bring the kids a little closer to our fascinating sport. Every year,Broncos help at summer sports camps for kids. Furthermore, the Broncos have regularly participated in fundraisers.

Photo: stockpix.it

Fans & Support

Today, the Calanda Broncos are known throughout the region. Everyone knows the Broncos, although American football is still a marginal sport. The many great successes and clever marketing contributed to the fact that the Broncos in their small but fine stadium always run into well-filled stands.

The city of Chur and the canton of Graubünden have not ignored this either. The Broncos are well supported by the city and canton. Titles are therefore also appreciated and honored.

In 2018, the Broncos were even voted Graubünden Sports Club of the Year. In addition, a full 120 yard turf field will be completed by the city of Chur in 2019 for American football. This new stadium is expected to be finished in 2021. Besides the government support, the Calanda Broncos can look forward to many generous sponsors. Sponsor support is unique to the Broncos. For three years, there has been a patron club, Calanda Broncos, which has supported the Broncos enormously and has become one of the most important pillars of our financial foundation.

Looking Back

It is no coincidence that the Broncos are now the most successful and well-known American football team in Switzerland. Even before the re-promotion to the NLA in 2008, a five-year plan was created. Already in the beginnings, three years after the foundation, club began to form junior teams to secure the move of well trained players.

Today, the Calanda Broncos team up for each junior department. Each year junior players are successfully added to the senior team. Many former juniors are today top performers of the men’s team.

After the re-promotion in the NLA in 2008, a five-year plan was created. The Broncos invested a lot of money in imports, which not only played, but also helped to train the juniors. The success brought more fans, players and sponsors. European tournaments and import players also made the local players better. Since winning the Eurobowl in 2012, the number of import players has been reduced. Today, the Broncos can keep up with their own domestic players with top teams in Europe and with the mentioned founding of the patron club Calanda Broncos, financial stability is also ensured for the future.

Disclaimer: This article is done as a partnership between Central European Football League [CEFL] and Touchdown Europe [TDEU], with the respected organizations participating in the CEFL 2019.

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