LIVE STREAM: BATTLE4Tirol – Benedictine College v. Swarco Raiders (7p CEST, 1p EDT)

In the latest edition of the BATTLE4Tirol, the Swarco Raiders invitational series, the Raiders welcome the American side of the Benedictine College Ravens.

The Benedictine Ravens come from Atchinson, Kansas, and play in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegeiate Athletics) league. The school’s size (25,000 students) and athletic level, is on par with most NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division II colleges. This the Ravens are expected to be stronger than last year’s American college foe, the Elmhurst College Bluejays (D-III). This is not due to the quality of the college but due to the team’s stronger focus on football. The school year at the Benedictine College ended three weeks ago and its players are coming together for this game and trip to Europe.

A special feature of this exhibition game is the Benedictine head coach, Larry Wilcox. He has led the Ravens since 1979, and is among the few coaches who have achieved more than 250 victories for their college. Wilcox’s endurance and successes set quite an exampe for American football teams around the globe.

“We have played in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden. I’ve been watching the Swarco Raiders for a couple of years. I know and appreciate the quality of their program and we just want to play against the best. We are impressed by the whole team with the coaching staff, “explained Wilcox when asked why did he chose to come to Innsbruck.

The importance of this Europe tour is reflected in the fact that they are traveling with junior and senior players. These are students who will play against the Raiders on Saturday are in their the 3rd and 4th year college football with Wilcox’s Ravens.

This is not an easy game warns Swarco head coach Shuan Fatah. “The Bendedictine Ravens have their own sports program focusing on their league and division. You can not really compare this with the Elmhurst College of last year,” said Fatah. “I would like to continually increase the level of our BATTLE4Tirol. I would even prefer to do two games per season against a U.S. colleges. It is a challenge for us and takes us a step further – makes us better. ”

Unlike the other Austrian Football League (AFL) teams, the Raiders are also competing in the Central European Football League (CEFL) international tournament. This has left the Raiders with no bye-weeks and they will play a new opponent every week. The Raiders stamina and endurance will be tested coming off a heart-breaking loss to their AFL rivals, the Vienna Vikings, last weekend.

That said, this game against American college Benedictine Ravens will be one of the absolute highlights at Innsbruck’s Tivoli Stadium in 2017.

LIVE STREAM: BATTLE4Tirol – Benedictine College v. Swarco Raiders (7p CEST, 1p EDT)

John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.