Serbia: Kragujevac Wild Boars sign Allen Wahlström as new HC

The Kragujevac Wild Boars, winners of five Serbian titles since 2008, four from 2016 to 2019, have announced the signing of Allen Wahlström as their new head coach.

Wahlström spent the 2021 season as defensive coordinator of the Bialystok Lowlanders in the Polish Football League helping the team reach the semifinals with a defense that only allowed 16 points a game on average during the regular season.

The 54-year-old Wahlström lives in Richland, Washington but was raised in Aledo, Texas, and has a background that includes coaching and playing not only football but track and cycling as well, (he was sought after by major colleges as both high school football player and track athlete before a knee injury ended his career). With his background and experience Wahlstrom will not only being teaching his players the finer points of football but also how to run faster.

Why did you choose the Wild Boars?

Wahlström: Let me start by saying how appreciative I am to be chosen to lead the Wild Boars, what an amazing opportunity. In 2013 in Sweden, I met a firefighter with the Uppsala Fire Department who played for the Uppsala 86ers, and while I had known there was American football in Europe beyond NFL Europe, it was the first time I really took notice. That led to my oldest son taking a coaching position with the Leipzig Hawks (GFL3), and when the opportunity presented itself due to pandemia, I found myself in Poland with the Lowlanders Białystok last season.

After the year ended it was my intention to come back to the US and concentrate on my European business and return to the High School Athletics program I took a break from. That was unless something really interesting presented itself. Leading the Kragujavec Wild Boars is a really interesting opportunity!

I always planned to return to Europe, but after being with a top program in the PFL, I was not interested in going just anywhere to be in Europe, as there were opportunities presenting themselves here in Washington.

When Milos reached out to me, I was interested. It was the Wild Boars. I have known about the team through CEFL and AFI for four or five years. The level of success speaks for itself, but it had to be a situation that worked for me and my family as I have children in school and being away has to have a purpose. When Milos gave me contacts to speak with about the program that was big, but after talking to Coach Hepner, I started seriously looking at how I could make this work.

The pieces are there to win a Championship, and the opportunity to be involved with youth development is very attractive. Wild Boars were the situation I was looking for and I can’t wait to get going.

What do you know about the level of play in Serbia?

Wahlström: I know Serbia and American Football is still relatively young, but the level of play at the top end is on par with Poland which was pretty good football. The Wild Boars have had success in the CEFL, as have two other Serbian teams, with Vukovi being the other major Serbian power in the CEFL, so the level of play is high, and we intend to put the Wild Boars back on top.

What do you know about the Wild Boars?

Wahlström: Quite a bit actually. I’ve followed European football for nearly a decade, and the WIld Boars have been covered quite a bit by AFI, and while living in Sweden I followed the SuperSerien, so that kept me watching CEFL games. As for the current team, I know there was disappointment in last season’s outcome, and that the team expects to play for a Championship every season. To do that we are going to have to improve on defense and make the right decisions when it comes to our imports, both American and European. The culture and structure are there to make this happen, now we just need to put in the work, and stay healthy.

What are your expectations coaching in the top league in Serbia?

Wahlström: A dog fight. Watching the games I have been able to look at online, there are several teams who can give everybody problems, and there are teams that have gotten better over the pandemic period. The teams that have been better than others at managing the challenges are going to be in a position to play deep in the postseason. With that said the Wild Boars need to be prepared for Covid cases, and coach up our 2’s and 3’s to be ready to step in and play at a level close to what we start with on the field. Developing our young players is hugely important to the long term success of the team.

This means making good decisions on where players fit in the puzzle gives us a great chance to navigate the challenges of pandemia.

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