PREVIEW: International Game – Team Catalonia v. Team Holland

For the first time in the 25 year history of American football in Catalonia (a region of Spain), their all-star team – Team Catalonia – will play an international game to celebrate the Catalonia Federations’s 25th anniversary as they face off against Team Holland this Saturday October 18th in Girona, Spain.

Catalonia 25th anniversary poster

The Catalonian team will be made up of the best players from the region which includes two of the top teams in Spain, the Badalona Dracs, current Spanish champion, and L’Hospitalet Pioners who have won five of the last seven Spanish titles.

Badalona Dracs 2

Sergio Gonzalo in action.

Team Holland, also known as the Dutch Lions, have a veteran group of players and played an international exhibition game against the Czech Republic in September losing a tough one 12-6. However, they defeated Belgium in July, by a score of 38-13.

Team Holland RB2

Team Holland in action against Czech Republic

For its inaugural game in international competition, Team Catalonia has selected a 45 player roster after spending a month in preparation. At least one player has been chosen from each of the American football teams in the province. Head coach Xus Fernandez (also head coach of the champion Badalona Dracs) has two outstanding quarterbacks at his disposal – Ramon Figueroa of the Pioners and his own quarterback from the Dracs Sergi Gonzalo. They will have a couple of excellent targets in wide receivers Hugo Solo and Victor Martin, both from the Pioners.

On defense, defensive backs Jordi Brugnani (Dracs) and Mats Jonsson (Pioners) will be key.

Team Catalonia Mats Jonsson

Mats Jonsson

Team Holland is in the midst of a rebuild of their national team program. After finishing third in the Group C tournament in 2012, they decided on a new approach. Instead of putting a team together in haste to play in European championship tournaments, they decided to actively seek out “friendlies” and build the team. In 2013 they played and beat Poland and then this year they have played the two games against Belgium, the Czech Republic, and now this game against Team Catalonia.

Head coach Winston Ronde and defensive coordinator Steve Sheppard have put together a talented squad who now know each other well. Quarterback Richards Bouthoorn (Dutch champion Alphen Eagles) is a proven winner and has started in every game for Holland since 2012.

Team Holland - Bouthoorn2

Bouthoorn on the run against Serbia in 2012

Running back Chris Smith, also from the Eagles was a dominant figure in the Czech game and with his soft hands he can catch out of the backfield. His backfield partner Sidney Kunst (Lelystad Commanders) makes it tough for opposing teams to key on one running back.

On defense, Holland relies heavily on the experience and speed of middle linebacker Kevin Bourne from the Amsterdam Crusaders.

Team Holland - Kevin Bourne

Holland’s Kevin Bourne corralling a Serbian running back.

Although many assume this is Spain’s B team, that is a misnomer. Many of the key members of Team Spain will be playing Saturday and this game should be exciting to watch.

Kickoff is at 12 noon Spanish time (6 AM EST). It will be streamed live but the link is not available as yet. We will add the link as soon as we have it.

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.