American football hits right pedestal in Europe

The gospel of American football is growing well in Europe despite a slow start in the formative years. The deliberate urge to surmount challenges posed and the sheer dedication in growing the game, has been the reason a sport that was earlier regarded a preserve for Americans in opening new inroads.

Germany, Sweden, Austria and Finland are among the top ranked nations with vibrant American football leagues. UK is coming up well and now there’s a new kid on the block, Ukraine, who have shaken off troubles in the last six years to stand out as a serious league.

These leagues definitely borrow from the most followed American Football, whose latest odds, promotions and bonuses are found in a list of online bookmakers analyzed on SportyTrader.

This year, the Ukrainian League of American Football (ULAF) marks five years since inception. It has grown through the struggles of politicians taking advantage to advertise themselves, financial struggles, poor management that at some point led to the disbandment of their national team and more.

The trajectory has been on an upward since the National Federation of American Football in Ukraine (NFAFU) which was done away with to form ULAF. In recent times, only the financial constraints, cost of acquiring training equipment and the global pandemic have been the main challenges for the ULAF. The resilience is on though, and they keep going and it even has a women’s league now.

While it isn’t considered among the top in Europe, the Ukrainian league is estimated to have about 400 male and female players while youth teams are also coming up. Top coaches are also getting attracted to the league and a number of US trained tacticians are crossing over to help grow the game.

Alfonsine Williams, for example, is a US expat who has taken up coaching in the ULAF since 2017 and is currently with Kyiv Patriots, one of the top teams there. He was also the first man to lead the Ukraine national team to an international game four years ago against Belarus.

The ULAF model definitely looks up to the German one, which is regarded the most advanced in Europe. The German Football League, regarded so after switching from American-Football-Bundesliga in 1999, takes after the American NCAA rules and has seven tiers. New Yorker Lions Frankfurt Universe, Munich Cowboys and Berlin Rebels are among the top teams there.

The Austrian Football League is another highly rated one in Europe after being in existence since 1984. Apart from the good structures and competitive levels, the Austria league broke barriers in 2010 by inviting Czech, Slovenian and Slovakia teams to take part. Prague Panthers from the Czech Republic was the first non Austrian team to grace the league though it left in 2016

The Finnish American Football League – Vaahteraliiga, is also growing well. It runs from May to September and has been operational since 1980 and Helsinki Roosters have won 17 championships. It has no limit on the number of European players allowed to play for the teams, which is among the factors that have enabled it grow.

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