The IFAF Senior World Championship Group A teams - Australia, Mexico and United States – attended a press conference this morning at the picturesque Tirol Panorama Restaurant. It was the perfect setting as you could look down and see the city of Innsbruck including the Tivioli Stadium where the IFAF Senior World Championship will kick-off on Friday, July 8 as defending champions United States faces Australia and Mexico and Germany play in the second game.
Local television and newspaper attended the press conference as the Austrian community is very excited about the upcoming event. Posters and advertisements can be found around the city including the city buses.
Each team was represented by their head coach and one player. Germany was unable to attend the event as they were traveling to Austria today.
The US Head coach Mel Tjeerdsma discussed the difficulties and preparations it took to prepare the US national team for the championship.
“It is a challenge to prepare in such a short amount of time, but I think all of the teams faced those same challenges. We have a great coaching staff and I think our coaches have done a tremendous job getting the players ready and our players are really cooperative.
This is more than just an all-star team; we are trying to do as much as we possibly can to get a complete football team. I think our staff has done a great job in achieving that.
We came here to defend our title, but we know the challenges. Each and every country has that goal and we have had about ten days together. Guys like Demetrius who have been here and they have expressed what it takes and I think that feeling has really bonded us together. And it will be interesting to see what happens.”
Coach Tjeerdsma also discussed that it has been a huge asset to have players who have experienced this before – including Demetrius Eaton who played in the 2007 IFAF Senior World Championship – as they were able to tell the team what to expect and the realize the tough competition that they will face.
Eaton added, “I expect eight teams to put on a show for the fans. This is the fourth championship, and I expect the teams to come on firing on all cylinders. We all have prepared very hard and we are all ready to play these games.”
The United States will face Australia in the opening game of the IFAF Senior World Championship. Australia who traveled the farthest – took over 40 hours of traveling to arrive in Innsbruck – is led by head coach John Leijten.
Australia may be preserved as the underdogs but do not count the players from Down Under out as Coach Leijten says the team is made up of competitors with lots of spirit and do not shy away for challenges.
“Our guys are very motivated. When they found out the opening game was against the United States, they were excited. They want to compete with the best in the world. Football players by nature are very competitive human beings.
When you have to compete against teams like the United States and Canada, it is always going to be difficult. What we ask of our players is to play as hard, as fast, as long as they can. As long as very does a good job of competing. Our main goal is to compete and win as many games as possible.”
Running back Matt Croasdaile agrees with the coach and adds he thinks that the experience playing together will be a huge asset as the majority of the team have played with one another for close to two years.
“We have a tremendous amount of guys that have been playing together since the last games in the UK in 2009 and there is a solid core of guys. To coincide with that, we have been working with Coach Leijten for the past year and half, and he has really gotten us ready training. I am also playing with six guys from my club team. So overall we have a lot of experience playing together, and I think that puts us in a good place for the championship. “
“We have to set our goals high. We might be preserved as underdogs but we have a tremendous spirit. So we are setting our goals high and want to beat everyone we face and we’ll see how we do.
We don’t have a lot of game tape on us. People don’t know what we’ll come out with. And I think that is advantage. We can come out and surprise people. And we have nothing to lose and are very excited with the opportunity to play.”
The second game of the day will feature Mexico and Germany. And Mexico came with their game face on. They enter the tournament having reached the IFAF Senior World Championship Gold Medal game twice in 1999 and 2003. And this year, they feel is their time to shine and bring home the gold for Mexico.
Mexico’s linebacker coach Gabriel Sánchez explained Mexico’s goals and how the team was selected.
“This is the third tournament that Mexico has participated in. And we have a great team, great players with NFL experience and Europe which is a huge advantage. We have a complete and focused team. We only have one goal and that is a championship.
In the past, we have lost twice to Japan. This team is pretty different. The selection process started eight months ago and in our country that is huge. We have never done it that way. We tried to combine NFL players and current league players. We have a balanced team.
Our strongest part is that we are together. The communication and the environment is huge.”
One of the players with NFL experience is Mauricio Lopez who explains the importance of the IFAF Senior World Championship to him and his team.
“I think we have a same dream and one mission and play for one country. I feel great, because we play for our country and have the opportunity to play against other countries. This is the most important part for me and the other players. We want to change the opinion of American Football in Mexico and win a championship. The most popular sport is soccer, but I think this championship can show we have talent in American Football as well.”
With the conclusion of the press conference, one thing is sure…the teams are ready to play!! And that is just what they’ll do as the IFAF Senior World Championship kickoffs tomorrow, Friday, July 8 in Innsbruck, Austria!