CFL, NFL, and now the GFL Receives the Charles Clay Experience

American Football is now an international sport, being played in over 85 countries around the globe. In different countries, to help develop the sport and keep competition at a high level, American players are “imported” onto club teams in various capacities. These players get paid to play the game they love while seeing the world and experience different cultures. The Saarland Hurricanes’ (GFL – German Football League) American import, Charles Clay, allowed me a detailed interview about his experience in Europe.

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Charles Clay is a 26-year old defensive back from Hilo, Hawaii. Photo credit: David Shinbara

What’s your football journey?

After being released from the CFL multiple times because of the numbers game, I decided I needed to play football while I was in my prime and get film before I become obsolete. I contacted the Saarland Hurricanes and we made it work.

How do you like it in Germany?

I love it! This country is really easy to live in, minus the language barrier. The people are very nice. They may not make small talk but when you become close with them they become family and help you a lot.

What is your go to meal in Germany?​


Do you spend a lot of time with German teammates or on your own/with other imports?

I spend a lot of time with my French roommate. I spend time with the guys on the bus and at practice which is a lot of time but other than that they are mostly in school or work.


Clay played college football at Southern Methodist University and the University of Hawaii. Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy

What level would you compare the football played in Germany to in the United States?

I would compare it to division 2 from what I know. There are some really talented guys on every team that make big plays.

What do you see as some of the biggest differences between football in the states compared to Europe/ Germany?

The biggest difference is the investment and support from outside. There are a lot of guys that can play but because it is just a hobby to most of the local guys on the team they are unable to make it to practice because they need to make money to live. A lot of the local guys pay to play on the team. I think if you could help them out even a little with money, maybe at least provide them with essentials and enough money so there is no money coming out of their pocket to play, the quality would rise tremendously.

How have you personally helped your teammates and coaches develop their American Football knowledge during your time abroad?

My coach played and is a terrific coach so he is very knowledgeable. I teach technique and drills daily at practice.

What are your plans after the season concludes?

As of right now I’m enjoying the moment and putting my best football on film. Where that leads me, we will see.


Charles Clay has played for the Ottawa Red Blacks (CFL), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL), and Green Bay Packers (NFL) before joining the Saarland Hurricanes this season. Photo Credit: Charles Clay

What advice would you give to someone playing football in Europe/overseas for the first time?

You will no longer be babied. You will grow as a man and truly see if you love the game or just love the fancy clothes and title that come with the game. The opportunity to see history and incredible culture is everywhere as well.

Can you sum up what American Football means to you?

American football to me is growth in every aspect, and development as a man.

Perfect Pervis is a football enthusiast from Texas City, Texas. Perfect currently resides in Finland, playing & coaching American Football and writing a blog about the football culture in Europe.