ELF: Homegrown Hero Series – French ballhawk defender Maceo Beard

The final third of the European League of Football has arrived and the ELF’s third season has shown the promising development of many domestic players.

With that in mind, the ELF Homegrown Hero series aims to shine a light on those players outside of the US and Canada making an impact on the ELF.

One of the best stories of the European League of Football this season has been the recent emergence of the Helvetic Guards of Switzerland. Initially, an afterthought, the new expansion franchise stumbled out of the gates losing the first five games by a combined score of 173-34.

However, with the exception of their last outing against Munich, the Guards turned things around recently beating Milano Seamen in overtime and upsetting the previously undefeated Stuttgart Surge and edging the Barcelona Dragons in OT to put together a three-game win-streak.

These games sent shock waves through the league as the Guards simply found a way to win these games in different fashions. Whether it was scoring on defense, special teams, or capitalizing on turnovers, or a 57 yard field goal, the Guards just found a way to get the job done. 

One of the standouts on the Guards defense, and three game turn around has been French cornerback Maceo Beard. The 6 ‘2 23-year-old currently leads the league with six interceptions, while notching one blocked kick, and one defensive touchdown, to go along with five pass break ups and 26 tackles.

Beard and American Ken Hike Jr have become one of the top corner duos in the ELF, propelling the Guards defense and helping them around their season. 

After an impressive performance at the CFL Global Combine in Bristol, England, Beard was drafted in the 2022 Canadian Football League’s Global Draft in May by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. However, he did not last long with the team.  In June of last year, he signed with the Berlin Thunder of the European League of Football.  Unfortunately, his season only lasted about a month, as he suffered a broken ankle after playing just four games.  

In those games, he racked up 11 tackles and two interceptions for the Thunder.  Beard had also previously played with French national team and the Potsdam Royals of the German Football League for part of the 2021 season where in eight games he recorded 14 tackles including one tackle for loss and two interceptions.

Beard sat down with us for a quick Q&A on his football journey and his thoughts on the 2023 season. 

AFI: How did you start playing football?

Beard: I’ve always played catch with my dad, I didn’t know France had teams before I was 16, that’s when I started!

AFI: How does it feel to be one of the top defenders in the ELF this season?

Beard: It’s great to be recognized as one of the best at my position, I believe this success is only manifesting from hard work and the faith I’ve always kept in myself. I’ve still got so much to work on!

AFI: What’s your favorite football memory?

Beard: Camp feels special every year, it defines the identity of the team, we learn to know everyone and build trust in each other that even more than ever we have to put enough effort into having good youth programs too.

AFI: What’s it like playing for the Helvetic Guards this season?

Beard:The franchise has been doing a great job at overcoming the issues of being brand new. The gameday experience is unique and the fans have been great 

AFI: What made you choose the Guards this off-season?

Beard: I was quickly amazed with coach Chow. He’s the reason why I signed here and I can’t express how grateful I am to have met him.

AFI: How was your time in the CFL last year?

Beard: It was a humbling experience which helped me grow and get better as a player, I feel ready to play at that level when the opportunity comes again.

AFI: What’s the goal of the Helvetic Guards this year?

Beard: We knew we never looked like a 0-5 team, the last few games really showed what kind of team we are. We always have an emphasis on being 1-0 every week. We have got 4 more weeks and we need to go 1-0 every game.

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and