American Football is thriving all over the world, especially in Europe. To help develop the sport and keep competition at a high level, American players are “imported” onto club teams in various capacities. These players get paid to play the game they love while seeing the world and experience different cultures. One of these import players, Paul Morant, was kind enough to answer a few questions about his time in Turkey with the Koç Rams.
THE TALENTED PAUL MORANT
You spent your second season overseas in Turkey, where else have you played? “Last year I played in Italy with Bolzano Giants. This was my second year overseas.”
You are a very versatile player, what positions do you play? “Almost every position on the field, quarterback, running back, wide receiver, safety, cornerback, linebacker, punter, punt returner, and kick returner. Safety, wide receiver, and punter are my preferred positions.”
How did you land in Europe playing American Football? “Well I knew a little of European football but not much. My friend, Byron Tillary, told me more about it after my final season at ODU. He just said to me after a game of flag football, “Bro, you interested in playing overseas?” I told him, “Yeah, of course I am. I’m just going to wait and see if I will get any NFL or CFL tryouts.” Next thing he said was, “Just make a profile on europlayers.com and put your highlights, the rest will take care of itself.” So I made a profile in May or June and I waited and trained with some of my friends. By October, I started to get some interest from teams. So I just waited and made the best choice which was to play in Italy. After a tough loss in the semi finals, the process started all over again but I felt more comfortable and experienced with European Football.
I got the message from Koç Rams football team around October. It was quite an up and down recruiting process to go there because there was so much going on in turkey. But after all of it, I decided to stick with it and we ended up winning the Turkish National Championship for the first time in the history of the club. It’s just been a blessing to be doing this, so I just have to thank all my teammates and coaches, most of all God for all he has done for me.”
FOOTBALL IN EUROPE
What level of American Football in Europe do you consider the best? “In Europe, GFL1 and AFL(Austria) are the best leagues. It’s more competitive from what I have seen and also heard from other import players. The national players do more things than other clubs around Europe. And have the right coaches for teams.”
What level would you compare the football played in Turkey to in the United States? “I think I would have to say it’s like High school.”
LIFE IN TURKEY
How did you like your time in Turkey? “It’s alright around there, I’m a laid back kind of guy so I didn’t do much. I like to stay in and relax and go out randomly. The Turkish people are pretty friendly but like anywhere there’s always some that are opposites. My teammates were awesome though. It’s like a family here with those guys.”
Did you spend a lot of time with teammates or with other imports? “I was with the imports most of the time. My Turkish teammates were usually working or in school so it’s hard to really spend a lot of time with them off the field. But when we all got together it was always a fun time!”
WORDS OF ADVICE
What advice would you give to someone playing football in Europe for the first time? “Enjoy every second of it. Work hard and play hard for your teammates and yourself. You get out as much as you put in.”