ELF: Helvetic Mercenaries HC Val Gunn on winning first game and the challenges of the season so far

The Helvetic Mercenaries won their first European League of Football game this past weekend after defeating the Milano Seamen 16-10.

For head coach Val Gunn, the win could not have come at a better time as the team heads into the toughest part of the schedule. Gunn has been scrambling ever since joining the Mercenaries in mid April just over a month before the start of the season. The team was formed only a couple of weeks prior after the folding of the Helvetic Guards. Needless to say, the task of assembling a team at this level literally in the space of a month, has been challenging to say the least. Some would even say impossible. Still, considering that he has been “asked” to take over duties normally handled by the General Manager and many others within a football team, Gunn is committed to the players and coaching staff.

AFI: You won your first game this past weekend finally after putting together the team in the space of just a few weeks. What are your thoughts?

Gunn: For me, it took a lot longer than expected. Yes we were hastily organized, but I am not going to use that as an excuse. Really we should be 4-2. Teams didn’t beat us, we beat ourselves. So now we see what we can do in the second half of the season. It’s the toughest schedule in the league, but we’re not going to go down without a fight.

AFI: This has been a tough year given the situation going in. Did you anticipate the turmoil you would face?

Gunn: I knew there were difficulties going in, but it was far greater than I anticipated. Under the deal, I signed on just to coach—with no front office responsibilities. It changed and I’ve been more involved than I wanted to get the franchise on track.

AFI: Apart from the on field struggles, how much have the off field issues affected the team?

Gunn: We always like to say “no distractions” to our players and coaches. Unfortunately that has not been the case, and the off field issues have played a key role in why we are struggling to get wins. It’s been very frustrating up until this point.

AFI: You have a tough schedule coming up but a win like this must be a huge boost for the players.

Gunn: Yes, this was a must win game for us. We’ve got a number of additions and Swiss reinforcements, which is great. Vienna is one of the elite teams of ELF and the next two on the road against Munich and Tirol will be extremely difficult as well.

This 1-5 Mercenaries now face in the final six games of the ELF regulars season the unbeaten Vienna Vikings twice (?!) in out-of-conference games, the Raiders Tirol, the Munich Ravens twice and the undefeated Stuttgart Surge. 

American Football International is your source for news and updates about American Football outside the United States!