From Poland to Brazil; Lonnie Hursey’s football coaching journey continues

Tychy Falcons head coach Lonnie Hursey is leaving the familiar territory of Poland and Europe to continue his coaching career in Brazil where American football is exploding in popularity. He has taken over the reins of the Vila Velha Tritoes in Brazil’s top league.

The city of Vila Velha is located about 500 km north of Rio de Janeiro.

Hursey has been coaching in Europe for the past 11 years and coached in seven different countries, including a brief stint in India. He guided his Tychy Falcons first from the second division to Poland’s TopLiga and then almost into the playoffs this season, finishing with a 3-3 record.

American Football International asked Lonnie what prompted him to accept the position of head coach for the Tritoes, taking his family almost 10,000 km away from home.

American Football International: You just had a successful season in Poland’s top division after advancing from second division last year. Why head to Brazil to coach?

Lonnie Hursey: The Polish and Brazilian seasons are opposite times of the year and it lined up perfect for my family and I. I discussed it with management and they agreed that it was a good idea since in the three years we have built a good foundation and we also have a great Polish coaching staff plus so many dedicated players.

AFI: How did you find out about the job in Brazil?

Hursey: After talking with Gabrial Chambers I found out that the seasons in Brazil are the opposite of the season in Poland so I contacted my friend Dan Levy and asked if he knew of any teams looking for a coach. The next day he told me his old team was really looking to make a splash and take that next step so he put me in contact with one of the team managers. After a couple days they decided I was their guy.

AFI: How long have you been coaching in Europe and where?

Hursey: I have coached in Europe for 11 years. I arrived in Spain which was my first year in 2007. Since Spain I have coached in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, India, Serbia and Poland.

AFI: What are the highlights for you so far in terms of football?

Hursey: For me the biggest highlight is that I have been able to see the world doing what I love most. Football has been real good to me but to answer your question more directly I would say the last three years with the Tychy Falcons because its the first place I decided to stay with one team for more than a season and build a program. I got married and had a beautiful daughter and just what we built there in the three years going from an average PLFA1 team to PLFA1 Champions and being competitive in top league. I have also really enjoyed seeing a few of my guys go from really good athletes to being one of the best in Poland at their position representing their country on the [Polish] national team.

AFI: How did you find out about coaching in Europe in the first place?

Hursey: I found out about coaching in Europe from a few Danish guys while discussing Wing-T football. The next year and a half I looked for teams to get my chance when I got in contact with Jose Llouis from the Reus Imperials. After a few weeks of talking they decided I was their guy and to this day I’m so grateful for the chance he gave me. That season we won their first LNFA2 National Title. I say this all the time but I owe the last 11 years to Jose Llouis and the Imperials for giving me the chance because with out them and without their hard work on the field to win the championship I’m not sure I would still be out here.

AFI: What are your expectations?

Hursey: My expectation here are to install a good foundation for the future as well as discipline and as always the goal is the Super league National Championship.

AFI: What do you bring as a coach to the team?

Hursey:  I bring excitement and experience as a coach. This team has lots of talent so its my job to mold it into a championship team. It will be a challenge.

American Football International is your source for news and updates about American Football outside the United States!