Noah Richards’ journey of discovery combines sunshine, grammar and football

During a regular week, Noah Richards heads into work at Colegio El Romeral a Bilingual school in Malaga, Spain. There, the second-year teacher works in the primary school teaching English to his students. Richards job involves helping students learn English as a foreign language, studying important details such as grammar, spelling, and pronunciation. On the weekends however, the Seattle native’s mild mannered nature is nowhere to be found, as he storms around football fields, patrolling the secondary, barking orders to the defense as a hard-hitting safety for the Feungirola Potros.

Richards has discovered a side of football in Europe that he never knew existed:

“It’s been such a fun, positive experience all around. Europeans have so much passion for the sport that I think goes unnoticed by many. American Football is becoming such a universal sport, and in the coming years, I think the popularity and enthusiasm for this sport will only increase.”

After graduating from Denison University, Richards, who had studied Spanish and Global Commerce, was looking for adventure and so followed this inner calling, taking a job as a teacher in Malaga, a picturesque town on the southern coast of Spain.

Noah Richards #31 returning an interception for the Fuengirola Potros Photo: Samuel Serrano

It seems his bold move to Spain coupled with the sunshine have made life that much richer for the American explorer.

“After graduating, I wanted to see more of the world, so I began working as a primary school teacher at a bilingual school in Málaga, on the southern coast of Spain. I’m currently almost through my second year teaching. It’s been an incredible experience thus far. It’s extremely rewarding to be able to have such an impact on young people.”

Being a foreigner in a new town can be difficult, but Richards discovered there was American football in town and last year was able to find a contact and joined the Potros. He has been a mainstay in the program ever since. Now in his second season, Richards has made a name for himself as a aggressive hard hitting safety not to be taken lightly in the Spain’s top division.

“When I moved to Spain I thought I was completely done playing, but I started really missing football after a couple months. I was introduced to the team through a friend and the rest in history.”

As a part of the Potros, Richards has brought experience and skill to a club looking to grow. He was an accomplished high school football player who went on to play at Denison for the Big Red, a Top 25 Division three program in Central Ohio. The talented college locker room proved to be a challenge for the 5’9″ safety.

Noah Richards patrolling the secondary for the Dennison University Big Red Photo: Mike Eltringham

Richards ended up embracing his role as a key special teams’ player during the Big Red’s 2018 conference championship run.

“It was definitely a challenge at first, as I didn’t play a lot on defense. On the other hand, I was able to learn the value of playing on special teams, and finding other ways to meaningfully contribute. During my senior year, we won a league championship which is among my greatest memories and achievements.”

Finding his new football family in Spain, Richards has been able to make Malaga feel like home. The responsibility and community of football has helped him grow a stronger bond with his teammates and coaches.

Richards is definitely enjoying his relationship with the Potros organization:

“It’s definitely given me a familiar sense of family that I’ve had in high school and college. It’s been great to get the opportunity to coach and help develop players while still being able to play. It’s a lot of fun.”

The English teacher however did not stay cooped up all summer grading spelling errors in Spain. Last summer, Richards followed his adventurous spirit once more by taking a chance to play for the Sollerod Gold Diggers in Denmark. The former Denison special teamer had an advantage. Thanks to the fact that he had a visa as a teacher, he did not count as an American import in the Danish league. This opened a unique door for Richards as he became part of a loaded Gold Diggers squad that was gearing up for a championship run before the pandemic canceled the season after five games.

Noah Richards #31 tracking down Mallorca Voltors ball carrier Photo: Samuel Serrano

Richards on his experience playing football in Denmark:

“Playing in Denmark for the Sollerod Gold Diggers this summer was an amazing experience. Unfortunately, we had a shortened season that got canceled before playoffs. Regardless, I am extremely grateful to have been able to play football and make some new friends in the middle of a pandemic.”

Looking forward, Richards and the Potros have three games left in their 2021 season including one this Sunday against the Osos Rivas. Señor Richards is looking forward to finishing the season strong with his teammates and, more importantly, his students, before considering his future on the gridiron.

“I still haven’t fully figured out my plans for after the school year. My goal has always been enjoying the game as much as possible, on and off the field. As of right now I’m open to whatever opportunities come my way.”

Watch Noah Richards and the Fuengirola Potros live on as they take on Madrid’s Osos Rivas, Sunday, March 14 at 12 noon Central European Time (06:00 AM Eastern Time).

Check out Noah Richards outstanding interception (#3) in Spain’s Top 5 catches of the season:

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and