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. The Calanda Broncos (Switzerland) American import, Clark Evans, allowed me a detailed interview about his experiences in Europe.
How many years have you played in Europe/overseas?
This is my 3rd year . My 1st year was with Ljubljana Silverhawks in Slovenia. My 2nd year was with the Dusseldorf Panther in Germany. Now I play with the Calanda Broncos in Chur Switzerland.
Which team was your best experience?
So far I have had the best experience with the Broncos because of how great the organization is run and because of our Head Coach Geoff Buffum who I think is one of the best coaches I have ever played under and definitely a top coach in Europe.
Which country was your best experience?
I have loved my time in each country differently, each bringing a new experience. I loved the small city feelings I have gotten in Ljubljana and Chur, but Chur has the edge because of the beautiful scenery with the mountains surrounding us on all sides and the people in Chur are so friendly and show great support for the Broncos
THE ROUTE TO EUROPE
During my last season of college I started to hear about football in Europe and once I realized playing in the NFL was not an option for me. I explored the opportunity of playing football overseas; at first I made my europlayers account as a tight end but got little interest. Once I changed my position back to quarterback I was given a lot more attention. That is when I signed with the Silverhawks. The next year I moved over to Germany to play in the GFL for the Dusseldorf Panthers after a rough season and less than fortunate dealings with the board members I found myself looking for another team but with a season that would allow me to be back in the states in time to Coach high School football and then I found the absolute best situation for myself with the Calanda Broncos.
LIFE IN SWITZERLAND
How do you like it in Switzerland?
I love Switzerland! The landscape is gorgeous and the football is great, lots of very passionate people trying to grow the game in the right way. The people are fantastic, every one is very nice and is always saying hello. With Chur being such a small city it’s nice to see people I have gotten to know throughout the city on a daily basis.
What is your go to meal in Switzerland?
Anything from our sponsor restaurant Restaurante Ticino. Everything they serve is amazing, and every day we get something new and it is always delicious.
Do you spend a lot of time with Swiss teammates or on your own/with other imports?
I spend quite a lot of time with the other imports going to the gym and then we all eat lunch together everyday and I try to spend as much time with the guys on the team as I can. They are a great group of guys very welcoming and friendly always inviting us to do stuff with them it’s a lot of fun.
What level would you compare the football played in Switzerland to in the United States?
Its hard to compare football over here to back in the states because the knowledge levels are much different but as far as the Broncos we have a very high football IQ. I don’t quite know what level we compare to in the states, I just know that my team has a lot of great guys who love the game and are passionate about getting better.
What do you see as some of the biggest differences between football in the states compared to Europe/ Switzerland?
A big difference is practice time and guys playing over here have jobs during the day and other commitments making football not their biggest priority. Youth football is growing rapidly over her but many teams don’t have enough coaches to really teach the game like in the states. But with things like YouTube, football is growing at a rapid rate and coaches are learning the correct techniques and kids are starting to play younger and younger.
How have you personally helped your teammates and coaches develop their American Football knowledge during your time abroad?
Once I became a coach myself back in the states I think I changed drastically as a player. Before as a player I focused more on what I can do as an individual to help the team, but now I focus more on how can I help the team in anyway possible. I love working with Coach Buffum with the u19 players and the senior players here in Chur. Learning from him and teaching little techniques I have learned over the years. I think being over here has changed the way I communicate with players because they have a much different understanding of the game, which has made me a much better coach back home.
What are your plans after the season concludes?
As of right now my plan is to enjoy my time here in Switzerland and be the absolute best player teammate and coach that I can be to help the Broncos Win.
LAST WORDS OF ADVICE
What advice would you give to someone playing football in Europe/overseas for the first time?
Know that the game is much different here but always love what you do and enjoy the process. Understand that these guys may not be as passionate as you are but that doesn’t mean you can’t push them and teach them that fire and passion.
What does American Football mean to you?
It means everything; I love this game and love what it has brought me in life. I wouldn’t change a second, and hope to continue to help this game grow in Europe, and around the world.