The Bucharest Rebels from Romania have signed 34 year old European veteran coach and player Stan Bedwell as their new offensive coordinator and quarterback for the 2019 season.
The Rebels are three-time winners of the RoBowl, the Romanian championship game (2014-2016) , and reached the final in 2018 only to lose 10-0 to the Cluj Crusaders.
Bedwell spent part of the 2018 season as head coach of the Allgäu Comets in the German Football League but left the team after nine games with a record of 5-4 under less than ideal conditions. He served as head coach and quarterback in the 2017 season with the Hämeenlinna Huskies in Finland’s Maple League after he had helped them advance to the top league. The team finished third and lost in the Finnish semifinals by a field goal.
Bedwell brings with him a wealth of experience and success since arriving in Europe in 2006. He played or coached for 14 different teams, a number of them twice. With the move to the Romania and the Rebels, Bedwell will be preparing for his 14th season in Europe.
The list of Bedwell’s accomplishments is long to say the least. Starting with the last team he played and coached with, the Huskies, who he helped advance to the Maple League in 2016, to Italy’s Lazio Marines who he also coached in 2016 and 2015 and took to the playoffs for the first time in many years, he has had an impact wherever he has gone. He quarterbacked the Kragujevac Wild Boars in Serbia to the Serbian championship and a couple of years later took them to the European Federation of American Football final.
He has coached college with the North Dakota State College of Science and Belhaven University under the architect of the Air Raid offense Hal Mumme. He has even coached in India with the Elite Football League of India helping teach new coaches in that country about the game of football.
His record of success speaks for itself. As a head coach in Europe he has a 79-24 record, as as head coach/quarterback/offensive coordinator it is 47-8 and as a quarterback/offensive coordinator 81-15.
AFI: Following a tumultuous departure from the Allgäu Comets you have landed in Bucharest, Romania with the Rebels. Why the move there?
Bedwell: Part of the reason is that this situation gave me the opportunity to come in and get to work right away instead of waiting until early 2019 like some of my offers in Switzerland and Austria, for example. The biggest reason, however, is the fact that it’s something completely new. A different challenge of sorts. American football is still very much at an early stage of development in Romania in all aspects. I saw this as a chance to really make an impact on the sport overall. At 34 years old, I’m not getting any younger and I’ve played/coached at some of the top levels of Europe so I don’t really feel the need to prove anything to anyone at this point. This gives me a chance to still play the game I love, develop the sport as a whole within the country, and live in a beautiful city that provides endless opportunities.
AFI: How were your feelings after the situation with the Comets?
Bedwell: I’d prefer not to speak out on this one. There’s been so much speculation about how things went down, but everyone that was in the room during our resignation meeting have said the same thing…there’s not a “second side to the story.” I gave a statement about this the morning after it happened, but a lot of people said that the Comets side should be reported. The reason that Comets President Adolf Hölzli never made a retaliatory statement is because there was no “story” there as people wanted there to be. I urge anyone with doubts to contact Mr. Hölzli themselves if they want clarification of the situation, he’ll say the same thing. He’s a man of integrity, a guy that I have great respect for, and someone I consider a friend.
AFI: You are returning to the field after a year away. Why?
Bedwell: Because I love the game and the fire is still there. Twice I’ve considered hanging up the cleats permanently (the first was after two elbow surgeries in 2013/2014) and the second was when I got the opportunity to coach at the highest level of Europe. Both served as a reminder that deep down, the thing I love to do the most in this world is strap on the pads and go to battle with my teammates. There’s no feeling in the world like it. I don’t know how many years I have left in me, but I’ve made the decision to play for as long as I’m able to do so at a respectable level.
AFI: How much did you know about football in Romania? Honestly not very much.
Bedwell: Of course I knew that the sport is still new here, there’s a lot number of teams, there is not much marketing or culture for the sport, and that the level of play is much lower than many of the leagues I’ve been a part of. Instead of seeing those as negatives, I saw them all as positives. American Football in Romania might sound strange to people, but I’m sure that not too long ago American Football in Poland or American Football in Brazil sounded a bit crazy as well. When you’re at the bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. I believe there is potential to build great things here and I’ll use my (going on) 14 years of experience in Europe to do the best I can to contribute to that. Maybe I’ll be here for one year, maybe it’ll turn into a long-term thing…at the moment, I’m pretty open to everything and excited to see where it goes. I’m really enjoying the city, the people here are great, and the management is first class.
AFI: What are your expectations?
Bedwell: Off the field, I want to build, market, promote, and develop the sport. I’ve already began talking to other teams in the country about hosting camps and clinics to help develop their players and staff. I’d also like to do something similar in cities where there are no teams and see if we can get something new started there. Here in Bucharest, we are hoping to expand on an idea of getting into the local schools and teaching English through American Football. A dream would be to have this in all the schools in our city, but we’ll start small and see what we can build.
On the field, I plan to build a powerhouse team in Romania that has the ability to compete with teams from other countries on a consistent basis. The Bucharest Warriors have merged with our team, so our number of players is very high. The players are soaking in all the coaching like sponges, and things should really take off in the coming weeks as we bring in a handful of import player/coaches that will develop our domestic players while also raising the level on the field. Right now, we’re looking for exhibition games in October and in November we plan to compete in the Atlantic Cup tournament in Paris, France. As for 2019, the goal is to win the Romanian national championship and compete at a respectable level in international games/tournaments.