This Saturday brings the to a close the pinnacle of European American Football, the Eurobowl final and Calanda is a team looking to break a trend.
If the Broncos win this Saturday they will be the first Swiss team to lift the trophy since the competition’s inception in 1986. More than that though, they could break the stranglehold that German and Austrian teams have on the continent, with the last nine Eurobowl trophies heading to those two countries.
But the Broncos have an edge. With some high profile sponsors of the team, Calanda have the money to invest in all areas of the squad, and they’ve invested effectively.
“We invested a lot into coaching,” says Robin Haas, General Manager of the Broncos. “We have a coaching staff of 7 coaches, 4 of them are full time American coaches.”
However they’ve come under some criticism for this too. The Broncos have used some of the sponsorship money to accumulate 21 import players on the roster, activating a loophole in the maximum limit of imports by utilising dual-nationality players.
DJ Wolfe and the Canadian brothers Sasha and Marko Glavic are three of said imports who have had a massive impact upon the team, who are now unbeaten in 36 Swiss League games.
“To be honest we all laughed at it [the criticism] and the fact that the Austrian Football president called us Mercenary Killers was a riot,” said Marko Glavic. “We have actually embraced it and just rolled with it. As I mentioned again we are not breaking any rules and we have a team that cares about each other and all have a common goal. So we really don’t care what other people say or think. We just play and try and win every game.
“Chur [where the team is based] is a very small town, with maybe 30,000 inhabitants,” he continued. “For the Broncos to compete in the EFL they clearly need a bit of a boost so we are lucky to have an owner who can attract some dual passport guys. We don’t have the same luxuries of having big population pools to pick from like the Zurich’s and Bern’s of this league, or the Vienna’s, Berlin’s and Graz’s of other leagues. Regardless what people say we are playing well within the rules and Mr. Tribolet can do whatever he pleases as long is it follows the rules put out by the Swiss Federation and EFA.”
Along the Eurobowl path they have knocked off the Helsinki Wolverines, beating the Finnish team 49-6 at home and 36-52 in the reverse fixture, before beating Graz 14-19 away from home. However the most impressive result was perhaps beating the Swarco Tirol Raiders in the semi-finals, preventing an all-Austrian final by beating them 3-35.
“[Our] toughest game was at Graz,” said Haas. “In Innsbruck [home of the Raiders] we had a good game and won clearly, which we didn’t expect before the game.”
This game is massive for Calanda. It would open up more media interest for the sport in Switzerland and help them be recognised on a wider scale than they already are.
The potential progression of the sport within a country once a team has won a competition on the scale of the Eurobowl is massive and if Calanda was to triumph then American football in Switzerland would surely benefit on the whole. Could this be the start of a break in the monopolization of Europe by the Germans and Austrians? The Broncos will hope so, but it’s too early to tell.