Meet Switzerland’s U19 head coach Michel Spitznagel as European qualifiers loom

Michel Spitznagel is the head coach of Switzerland’s U19 team which is final preparations for the European championship qualifying tournament. This weekend June 2-4, Switzerland will play Holland, Spain and Germany to determine who advances to the IFAF Paris European Junior Championships to be held in Paris July 15-17.

Switzerland faces Team Germany in their opening game one Friday June 2 in Almere, Holland.

American Football International asked Michel about his background and preparations for this important event.

American Football International: How long have you been head coach for Team Switzerland?
Michel Spitznagel: I have been the coach of the U19 national team since 2012

Photo: Sergio Brunetti

AFI: What is your background in American football?
Spitznagel: I started to play football 1984 and played until 2000. In 2000, I started coaching.

AFI: How long has Team Switzerland been in preparation for the European Junior tournament?
Spitznagel: We started August 2016 with 2 try-outs. We had 2 day camps this year, and we are holding a mini camp as well.

AFI: How many players attended your camps?

Spitznagel: In the camps, we were around the 65 players

AFI: You have an impressive coaching staff. Can you tell us a little about them?

Spitznagel: Yes, that’s right we have a great coaching staff. Most have been there since 2012. DC Coach Volpi does a great Job on defense with his staff. Also in offense we have a great staff.
For the tournament, we have received an incredible boost with Don Clemons [former Detroit Lions coach] and Rick Benedetto. With the experience which these two bring along we will all benefit from it. For all of us, it is an honor to be a part of this coaching staff.

Swiss Junior National Team in preparations May 30 Photo: Sergio Brunetti

AFI: When was the last time the Swiss Junior national team played a game?

Spitznagel: In 2015 we played in Stuttgart against Germany in a friendly game.

AFI: Is this the first time these players will be playing at this level?

Spitznagel: Yes, is the first time for these players.

AFI: Are there any players you have been impressed with?

Spitznagel: Yes, but too many to mention. We have some very talented players.

AFI: What are your expectations for the tournament?

Spitznagel: I expect an exciting tournament in which Germany will be the big favorite. For the players and coaches, it will be an unforgettable experience.

Photos: Sergio Brunetti

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.