Belgian Barbarians lose head coach Lee Rosky

The head coach of Team Belgium – Belgian Barbarians – Lee Rosky from Canada, is stepping down after four years.

One of the driving forces behind the formation and development of the Barbarians since 2013, Rosky is leaving the program to handle coaching duties for the ISB (International School of Brussels) Raiders and to devote more time to his family and his work.

Rosky explains his decision:

“I appreciate the kind words but there has been a lot more than just me behind the program and I hope it will continue to grow. I don’t feel like I can take it to the next level where it needs to go. I have a six day a week job at ISB and I need to be a Dad and husband as well.”

The International School of Brussels is one of the top International Schools in the world. It is a private school for expats with many children from embassies or multinational corporations. Raiders Athletics operates the largest athletic program for international schools in Europe. ISB is one of the few international schools that offers American football. The Raiders play in the DODEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) league against US military bases.

The Belgian national team has been one of the most active national American football teams in the world over the past four years, playing at least two games a year. In 2017, the Barbarians defeated Team Spain in a thriller and then lost a very close game to Russia. Under Rosky, the team has fashioned a 5-4 record.

In an interview earlier this year, American Football International asked Lee about his involvement with the program.

American Football International: How long were you involved with the Belgian Barbarians?

Lee Rosky: I have been involved with the Barbarians for four years, basically since the start of the program. I have been the Head Coach for over three years now.

AFI: How did you get involved in the first place?

Rosky: I was coaching American Football at the International School of Brussels and found out that there were club teams in the area so I ended up coaching with the Waterloo Warriors. I was then approached about helping out with a new national team project so I agreed to coach the offensive line. I was the O line coach for the first Barbarian game when we played the Dutch Lions in Ostende then I took over as head coach.

AFI:  How many international games have you played?

Rosky: The Barbarians played nine games in total. We have five wins and four losses at this point. We have traveled to Kuwait, Holland, Poland, Spain and Hungary…it has been a great ride.

AFI:  How do you think the national team has helped the growth and popularity of the game in Belgium?

Rosky: Good question but hard to answer. I think the Barbarians have had a big impact on the American Football community in Belgium. I believe that we have created a sense of pride for Belgians who love the game. We have an amazing following through social media and get a great deal of support at games. We have also helped to “narrow the divide” a little between the Frenchand Flemish sides. The game is very popular in Belgium and the leagues are expanding all the time.

I don’t think that we have really made a huge dent in Belgium in terms of impact outside of the American Football Community but we are working on it. We made an appearance on a very popular Belgian TV series and the national press is giving us more and more attention as we grow. We are hoping that this attention will help us gain more sponsorship in the near future, that has been a tough nut to crack.

General Manager Christophe Olenaed will be in charge and Rosky is confident that the program is in good hands.

“Christophe Olenaed has been helping to run the program from the outset and done an excellent job and will be in the lead while the program transitions.”

Rosky admits this was not the easiest decision to make:

“It has been an honor to be the HC of the Belgian National Team. I have enjoyed the challenge and the opportunity to get to know many of the people who make up the American Football community in Belgium. It is a difficult decision to make and I am certainly leaving the program with a heavy heart.”

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Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.