Hungary’s Budapest Wolves playing without imports for 2017 season

The Budapest Wolves in the Hungarian Football LeagueHFL – are definitely bucking the trend in Hungary this season. According to president and head coach István Kovács the team will play without imports and instead the six-time Hungarian champions will give younger players more opportunity to play this spring.

Five out of six HFL teams signed imports in the offseason. The Budapest Wolves did not want to join this ‘arms race.’ Club management refused to strengthen the squad with foreign players. This could have a good and a bad outcome.

The Újpest Bulldogs and Budapest Cowbells were the last two clubs to enter the Hungarian top league without imports. In 2015, the Bulldogs finished last in the regular season, while the Cowbells qualified for the semi-finals and finished third.

Photo: János Gábor Hidvégi

The Wolves made a risky decision!

However, the 6 time champion is full of players who are part of the Hungarian National Team. The Wolves’ biggest signing is Ferenc Sződy who will coach the Wolves Austrian Division I squad. Nevertheless, even without any imports the Wolves still have the chance to compete for their seventh Hungarian title.

Kovács explained why they refused to sign any imports during the offseason. He also talked about the squad’s goals in 2017.

Last year you entered 4 leagues or tournaments, which ended up badly because you lost a lot of players due to injuries. How can you avoid this in 2017?

Kovács: In 2016, our key players got injured early in the season. This totally redefined our schedule and we could not find the right solution for this problem. Of course, we do not want this to happen again; therefore, we lowered the number of our games. Thus, the players will not be so burdened and we can easily make changes in the roster, if necessary. Even the practices will be more professional and it will be divided into several segments.

István Kovács Photo: Péter Bratincsák

We did not hear about new signings or imports. Why is that?

Kovács: Because we did not sign any. However, there will be some minor adjustments in the roster. As always, some key players must skip the whole season, like Dávid Elek or Márk Mezei. But there are some returning players as well. David Danku and Oliver Wágner are back. Although our yearly budget is big, we want to spend that money on developing our youngsters, not on imports. Not to mention, we also have to travel abroad which also needs financing. We are not against foreign players but we do not want to spend money on them right now.

What is your opinion about the teams which participate in the HFL?

Kovács: I think every club could bring strong new players. Thus, every team is evenly matched.

I guess the Austrian Division I. will be part of the schedule. Is this league a good opportunity for the junior players?

Kovács: This year, we will rely on all those players, who were part of our 2016 U19 championship winning team. Every youngster will have the chance to prove his strength, preparedness and talent. In addition, some of our U17 players may have the opportunity to take the field in the Austrian Division I or in the HFL.

What are your goals in the two leagues?

Kovács: In the HFL, we want to be champions again! In the Austrian Division I., first, we want to make it to the playoffs. After that, everything is possible.

HFL regular season for Budapest Wolves:

March 25.: DAK Acél Dunaújváros Gorillaz (Dunaújváros)
April 22.: Eger Heroes (Eger)
May 7.: Miskolc Steelers (Budapest)
May 21.: Budapest Cowbells (Budapest)
June 4.: Győr Sharks (Budapest)

AFBÖ Division I regular season for Budapest Wolves:

March 26.: St. Pölten Invaders (Budapest)
April 14.: Bratislava Monarchs (Bratislava)
April 17.: Carinthian Lions (Klagenfurt)
May 14.: Vienna Vikings 2 (Budapest)
May 28.: Carinthian Lions (Budapest)
June 10.: St. Pölten Invaders (St. Pölten)
June 28.: Bratislava Monarchs (Budapest)
July 8.: Vienna Vikings 2 (Vienna)

Budapest Wolves Established in 2004

Home Field: In HFL: ELMŰ Stadium; In AFBÖ Division I.: Angyalföld Sports Center
Coaching Staff: W1: István Kovács (HC, OC), Gábor Miakich (DC); WFT: Ferenc Sződy (HC), Gergely Oláh (OC), Márton Iványi (DC)
New Players:
Championships: Hungarian Champion (2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015) HFL 2nd place (2013, 2014, 2015-Bratislava Monarchs won HFL), Fall Bowl champion (2011), AFBÖ Division II. 1st place (2015), AFBÖ Division III. 1st place (2014)

Photos: Péter Bratincsák, János Gábor Hidvégi, Gabriella Kraus:

László Makranczi is a radio reporter, announcer and American Football journalist in Hungary. He lives in Debrecen and works for the Hungarian American Football Federation. Studied at the University of Debrecen, got a master’s degree in American