This weekend, the second International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Europe Qualifying Tournament kicks off in Worcester, England.
Sixways Stadium in Worcester is hosting the international fixtures that features the national American football teams from Great Britain, Russia, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands.
The Czech Republic national team will face the Dutch Lions from the Netherlands in the first round on Friday. The winner get a chance to qualify for the European Championships in 2018!
American Football International spoke with the Czech Republic Head Coach Daniel Leško.
1. What are your thoughts on the team? How are they as a group?
Leško: We, as coaches, couldn’t be more happy and satisfied with this group of young men. We had a team loaded with talent, speed and very strong motivation to play at best level. I would say we have a great chemistry in team, even if we have a young team in average.
2. Are there any individuals that stood out to you? Any specific top players on the team we should be sure to keep an eye out for?
Leško: I would not pick one or two players. Our strength come from balanced skills at all positions. All players are best at each position, we are betting on strong groups of players, not individuals. Everyone´s effort is crucial for team success
3. What can you tell us so the world can know more about the Team Czech Republic?
Leško: Team Czech Republic is long term participant in European international football. We used to play international games from early 90´s, couple bronze medals from European Championships Group B, finished fourth at last Championship tournament in Milano 2013. Players are recruited mostly from top league teams, but we pay attention to developmental camps for broad football community, try-outs to everybody will get a chance to show his talent.
4. How have you prepared the team for this game? Are you practicing now? If not, when?
Leško: We had two tryouts and three weekend´s camps. Around 90 players was tested to made a team, best 60 players compete for 45 men roster during camps, finished last weekend. We were focusing from early stage to develop players skills and techniques to playbook install, game management and organization on the end. Players was tested and stressed in live football situations, team periods simulating live game. So even if we did not play game before tournament I´m sure our team is ready and eager to jump right on the field
5. Have you brought in any coaches for these games? If so, who? What do they bring to the team?
Leško: Well, not really for these games, but I made a very good coaching acquisitions this year, linebacker coach Raymond Bonnell (Salzburg Duck) who improve our skills and techniques at that position, and Timothy Weldon, former DI player as a defensive back coach. Botch coaches are very helpful during camps and develop Czech players forward.
6. What does it mean to the Czech Republic to play in this qualifying tourney? Can you talk about the goals of the Czech National team program?
Leško: A win baby! We do everything on the field and of the field to win. Winning is everything. So we fully respect our competitors, but will do our best to win. Also we´ll bring a lot of young players to get some experience on that level, to make a smooth “generation exchange” in next upcoming years.