When the Bullard High Knights took on rival Madera High in Fresno, California a couple of weeks ago, they had their very own German cheering contingent. Germany’s Münster Mammuts youth team, who had been visiting all week as part of Fresno’s sister cities program with Münster, Germany, were also in the stands to cheer on the team they had been practicing with all week.
The Mammuts players and coaches spent the week learning about football but also discovering the cultural differences between the two countries.
Bullard Coach Don Arax :
“It’s been a great week. The German kids are obviously very bright… they speak outstanding English. Very respectful, good kids, so it’s been a lot of fun. We’re just trying to make them better football players and teach them the way we play in this country.”
There is no question that the Münster players discovered the high level of football being played in schools throughout the United States.
German player Leon Jevric:
“Well the game is really fast over here. Everyone’s faster. It’s not as refined in Germany, so they really go in depth here. I’ve learned a lot about what real football is about.”
Thirty-five players, ranging in age from 10 to 19 practiced with the Bullard coaches in the morning, and then watched the Knights practice in the afternoon. In fact, four of the Mammuts players had the opportunity to practice with the Knights throughout the week as well.
German football coach Sasha Krotil:
“Every night, he talk to me and say, ‘Sasha, the trip is so nice, I learn so many, it’s so great a time for me…let me make it every year.'”
While American football is growing in Germany, it is still a ways down the hierarchy behind soccer and a few other sports. And it is played as a club sport, with no attachment to schools, and teams have to travel two to three hours to play other teams. But the game is expanding with a solid base and a strong federation. In fact, there are four German players in the NFL.
Explaining how he got started in football Leon Jevric put it simply:
“I was looking for something and just saw big guys hitting each other, you know, and I was like, ‘I gotta do this.'”
Video by Silvia Flores, Fresno Bee