Interview: Tunde Ogun - It's More Than Football, It's Building A Culture!

Photo: Thomas Haumer
Interaction between fans and import players has always been on a different level than fans and domestic players. Is it because the imports are instantly being looked at as the "stars", or, something else? Also, most look at the imports as it's easy for them to move to another team. Well, sometimes it's not easy, and RB Tunde Ogun shares his experience.

Most would say Austrians are rather cold and reserved, especially to 'foreigners' and/or new people in general. However, the Danube Dragons fans showed love, lots of it, and even we were touched by the story. It's a bit of a sad ending mixed with great emotions.

Tunde Ogun got signed to Danube Dragons 2 seasons ago. Both seasons team was in the playoffs. His teammates would say that he's probably the most charismatic and athletic import they ever had. 

The "relationship" between Ogun and Danube Dragons had to come to an end once the Austrian league brought new rules to the table. One of the rules is the not-so-popular 1 import rule. Since the Dragons need an American on the QB position, team and Ogun had to say goodbye.

"It was devastating. I was receiving  letters, texts, messages etc. from kids, everyone was sad." - says Tunde, and continues: "Vienna was like my second home. After the first season where I enjoyed Austria so much, I couldn't wait to come back for the second season.  I scored 31 TD, and run for cca 2500 yards in 2 seasons. I understand what does it mean being an import, so I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where I will play next."

Once the news was out, young fans started to contact Tunde with questions of why he's not going back to Vienna. 

"During the games I'd see fans in Ogun shirts, my name was all over the place, Dragons treated me above great. I hate so say it, but I felt like a superhero thanks to my team and the fans. It did feel great and now it feels weird, I'm going back to being a "1st year import" again. New city, new team, new people. At the end of the day, I'm excited about new opportunities." says Ogun.

Off the field, Tunde made sure to be involved. Charity events, team building, community work, camps - "When I first when to the Dragons, I wanted everyone to see us as a big team. Every photo I posted, I made sure to write DRAGON NATION. I'm happy to see that the guys liked it, now it's on T-shirts and so on. I wanted to help create a culture. Dragons have a great team, great players, and I wanted to help put on a show. I wanted to bring everyone together. I am 6'1, athletic, and I can look intimidating, however, once everyone saw I'm joking around and that I'm relaxed, everyone embraced me. It's more than football, it's building a culture.

It's tough knowing I won't be "dealing with" the players directly anymore. It's weird knowing that I won't be going to "war" with the same guys I used to do that with in the past two years. Also, the vice president of the team was there for me for anything I needed, she was like a mom to me while I was there."

The 1-import-rule doesn't benefit everyone. "Some of the teams really don't need the imports, like Vikings for example, or maybe even Raiders. However, most of the teams in the Austrian league do need more than one import. They need help in developing the players." says Tunde.

However, Dragons have a "replacement". One of the young players, got a nickname "Little Tunde", and hopefully, one day, he will become as great as Ogun is on the field.

Mia Bajin