Iceland: Reykjavik Einherjar take on Austria’s Carinthian Lions

Iceland’s Reykjavík Einherjar American football team is getting busier and busier. On February 10, the  Einherjar, the only American football team in Iceland, will play host to the Carinthian Lions from Austria.

The Lions play in Austria’s first division and are flying to Reykjavík with a squad of 24 players. The team kicks off it season in Austria in mid March so this is an early preseason game.

Lions team rep, Bernhard Kamber:

“We’re all excited to make the trip and we will be well prepared to give the people a good game . We will come with 24 players and a few girlfriends and wives. We are also looking forward to see a bit of Iceland!”

As their reputation grows, it is becoming a little easier for the Einherjar  to find games. Nevertheless,  they are still  the only football team in Iceland.  And being an island nation with a population of only 300,000, located 1,200 miles north of London, England, Iceland is still as remote as it gets in terms of American football. So the Einherjar spend most of the year practicing, while they troll the international American football community for games.

This has not deterred the Einherjar. In the past two years the team has hosted teams from Norway, Germany and Great Britain, winning five games and losing two. They traveled to Mallorca in late October last year to play the Spanish first division team the Mallorca Voltors. Reykjavík won the game, 21-14.

With Iceland’s notoriety growing, thanks in part to its national soccer team reaching the  2016 European Championship quarterfinals defeating Austria, the Netherlands and England before succumbing to the host French, it too has now become a tourist attraction of its own. And American football is not the first thing on the minds of the many tourists who come to explore the glaciers and volcanoes.

While still young, the Reykjavik Einherjar are working hard and have been practicing and honing their skills for years now, in a sort of cocoon but have gained international interest thanks in part to the tireless efforts of firebrand and quarterback  Bergbör Phillip Pálsson. Through his persistence, teams around the world, including the Minnesota Vikings, now know about the Einherjar.

Pálsson explained the situation to the Icelandic website, mbl.is:

“We are constantly struggling to prove ourselves in Europe and gain access to the European leagues. We want to stop playing friendly games and play in a proper league. Our success has attracted much attention in Europe.  Now, the strategy is to play against stronger teams, and we have hired to work Mark Reeve from Texas. He has been a high school coach in the United States and an assistant at major universities. We have to win this game and continue working to enter a European league.”

 

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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