Holland’s Amsterdam Crusaders Sign Two Top Belgians

Stijn Dossche and Nick Vanhee won Belgian Bowl XXIX with the Ostend Pirates last year. The defensive lineman and linebacker achieved the highest possible success in Belgium with that win; They are both Belgian champions and members of the Belgian Barbarians, the Belgian national team. They were looking for a new challenge and found one in the Amsterdam Crusaders from Holland.

Both players signed with the Dutch national champions last month and we found an opportunity to speak to both of them together about their move.

The first question is an easy one: Why the Crusaders?

Dossche: “There are two very big reasons: it’s the best team in the Netherlands and they will play European American football in the Big6 this year. Last year the Crusaders played European football and even reached the EFL final against Frankfurt which is in itself already a big achievement. The experience of the club and the coaches was the last factor I needed to convince me that this was the right move. When I visited the team in Amsterdam I liked it so much that I asked Nick to come along.”

Vanhee: “My answer is pretty much the same as Stijns’. It’s just a very strong organisation that plays football at a very high level. The limited distance between Amsterdam and Oostende is of course also a factor. It’s a three hour drive to Amsterdam so we go there during the weekend and then the club provides accommodations for two days.”

What position will you guys play there?

Dossche: “They have obviously recruited me to play on the defensive line but the coaching staff told me that I would have to rotate on the offensive line as well. The defensive rotation will stay my main job though.”

Vanhee: “I’m stuck on defense even though I played some tight end with the Pirates. They will test me at the defensive end and linebacker positions. On special teams I will have to contribute as a long snapper. They have four middle linebackers on their roster right now so I’m going to do my very best to be one of the two starters.

How big is the step from the Pirates to the Cru?

Dossche: “Their defense has obviously been one of the best in the Netherlands for the last couple of years. They play a similar system to the Belgian Barbarians but a little more aggressive, their playbook is also on the same level, which is obviously a difference with our playbook of the Pirates last year. ”

Vanhee: “When we played with the Pirates our playbook was something much simpler. A 5-1-5 with old school football with only a couple of blitzes, so all in all a fairly small playbook. I called the plays on defense on the field but now that will be completely different.

What are your expectations this season?

Dossche: “I want to be Dutch champion and reach the semi-finals of the BIG 6.”

Vanhee: “Exactly the same”

Read the original story on Gridiron Belgium.


Luther Rommens is a young American Football player from Antwerp, Belgium and a regular contributor to AFI.