TD[EU] Teams: Imperators Niš Of Serbia

Imperators were formed back in 2006. Of course, gear was the biggest issue, so, as most of the teams in EU, they started playing tackle football with no pads and helmets. Their debut season was a complete success, where they became the vice-champs of the domestic league.

In 2008, gear finally arrived, however, they didn't make it to the playoffs. Unfortunately for the team, every next season was less productive. Losses took over the wins, however, this is not a sad story. Imperators snapped back, and started working on their program. New board came in, and imports were flew in. 

With a new mindset - team managed to make a comeback, and in 2012 they ended their season by entering the Elite division.

In the last 2 years, Imperators gave one of their players - a junior, for the Juniors National Team.

New Board, New Everything
In 2010, Aleksandar Jocić took over the team. Team didn't have a practice field, game field, gym, gear etc. - "We had enough footballs if nothing" says Jocić and continues: "Right now, we have a turf field, we have a gym that can be compared to some of the college football gyms, also, we have classes twice per week where we can watch opponents film. I had a lot of help, I can freely say that I have a great team of people on the team board."

Getting players to practice is the hardest part though. "I think all teams have this issue. Some might think they're irreplaceable, however, Shane Wong was the biggest motivation for the guys. We don't have a HC, but, Shane took over. And, that's something we will keep doing - one of the imports will have the HC position."

If a team wants attention, marketing has to be flawless. Imperators are focusing on local media and local "face-to-face" promotion. "We do a lot of local TV appearances, besides online promo of course. We tend to visit schools, or just hand out flyers around the city. We love the interaction with people. So far, we didn't do any charity work, but, we're about to change that. It's really hard to decide who to devote the charity to. But, if we can help one person and make an impact, raise awareness for more people to participate and help - I think our mission will be achieved." says Jocić.

2012 Recap
Shane Wong is back for season 2013, but, we wanted to know a bit more about the past season. 

"Last season. Wow! When I arrived, we had a bunch of guys who are great athletes, but they didn't really know football. In practice, it was hard to overcome "everyone knows the best". We managed to pass that, and it's great to come back now in 2013 and continue where left. Before, this teams history wasn't very pretty. They never had a season like the one last year. To let this team know how great they can be was the most important thing to me. Commitment to believe is the first part of winning. We want our team to start believing. I think the sky is the limit!"

Having a "small number" team, can be good and bad. Good part is that it brings the team together, and Imperators are doing just that. 

Imperators don't have a whole lot of players. Not even a 45 men roster. That doesn't stop them from being serious competition. They are used to being rotated, and most of the players can play both ways. Some of the guys don't come off the field during games. 

Wong says that it was a bit of trouble breaking the guys down and then building the football mindset, but, even that was a major success. - "One of our guys last year, Kiko, I kept telling him that he's 10% of what he can be. I broke him down, because I knew he has his heart in it, but, he needed to learn the game. This season - he's a student of the game. I'm so proud of him!"

Imperators picked their Americans wisely. 

Wong says: "I was getting couple offers from Norway and France. Imperators came in. After talking to them I knew I wanted to go there. Former HC did a good job! I wasn't sure what to expect, but I know I was really happy when I arrived - my team president was at the airport, and actually spoke English to me.  

Guys on the team were very hesitant to talk to the Americans. I remember that one of our best players, Ogi, who speaks perfect English, finally after 2 weeks of my arrival decides to speak - he said - Today, I'm talking, I'm done!

My last two weeks of 2012, I knew I wanted to come back. Niš is such a beautiful place, guys here are like family. "

President Jocić put Wong in charge for scouting for season 2013. Wong  picked Deonte Gist, WR/DB who was a D2 All-American player coming from Tennessee.

One of the biggest Game Day moments for Imperators has to be their last game of 2012. when they managed move up to D1 for 2013. That game was the game when Imperators clicked as a team. 
Again, we asked Wong to share the experience.

"When time on the clock was about to run out, we went back on the field. We had around 45 seconds to score. Randy, or former American WR, came in and started yelling "Let's go, let's score and go to the Superleague!". It was unreal! I don't think I've ever been that exhausted after a game! That feeling.. I want it again! That's why I'm back. I want my team to get that feeling again, they deserve it! 

There's an unlimited potential to access by doing things you've never done before. You don't know how great you can be until you do things that you thought are impossible. The more we play, the more my teammates will realize it, and I think we have the athletes to win a lot of games." 

Mia Bajin