Veteran Imports: Kendral Ellison, LB

Photo: Kay Elvert 
I've been an import for the past 4 seasons. I've played in Finland, Germany, and Poland. Definitely would have to say the Germans have the best football. The level of competition is consistent from top to bottom in the league. In the other countries you have those gimme games but not many in Germany. There isn't any 81-0, 64-0 games.

Why becoming an import player?
When it comes to pro football in the US, let's be honest the only two leagues that matter are NFL and CFL. I'm not a fan of arena ball so the next option and best option was Europe. The love of the game and opportunity to experience and see things I never imagined brought me over. If an import has been over for 1+ years he understands everything it means to be an import player. That title alone puts you in a position to be player, coach, advisor, recruiter, etc. There is no way anyone will make it as an import with a closed mind. 

My advice to anyone becoming an import is to have an open mind and be willing to get out of your comfort zone. You will be asked to do things, play on fields, wear things that in your head doesn't make any sense but thats all a part of being an import. You are on that team's dime, don't think you are too good for anything.

Picking the right team
Picking a team can be somewhat stressful. You never want to go into anything blind so its always best to do your own research. Ask questions to the management and previous imports. Get as much information as possible so that you can make an educated decision because you are leaving everything the moment you board your plane and you are going to a place where all things are foreign to you. Over the years you meet and befriend many players, managers, etc and you also become more knowledgeable about football in every country so picking teams has become much easier. 

My best experience would definitely have to be in Pori Bears  (Finland) and also Hamburg Huskies (Germany) with teams that went over and beyond to make sure I was comfortable and happy. Worst would definitely be Wroclaw Devils (Poland) and Lubeck Seals (Germany), both having absolutely amazing players/teammates and being amazing cities, but in Wroclaw a horrible coach and few horrible board members and Lubeck a board that was simply not ready to handle 6 imports on that level.

Domestic talent
I'd honestly have to say that everywhere I have been the guys have been beyond eager to learn. Yeah you deal with egos here and there but overall guys are coachable and will take advice as long as you are willing to give it. How much you are able to teach really depends on the countries level of play. I've had to do the least amount of teaching in Germany as many guys have been playing since they were 14-16 or maybe younger.

Import rules
I'm not really a fan of the rules because I think that it will shut the door for many guys to be able to come and play. Austria is packed with talent but you still see a duo like Wise and Callahan is effective and changes the game. I think you lose a little something when you can now only bring one of those guys into league play. As for Poland I think it is entirely too soon to make that change. I say this because in Poland, unlike Austria, the Americans can completely dominate games. A big thing there is who has the money to sign the best guys (Seahawks, Panthers, Eagles). And because of that there is a huge gap in the league. Not only that but you are taking teachers of the game away as well..Time will tell.

What's football in Europe missing?
Having people leave their lives and not stick to an agreement occurs often in Europe. There are stories every year. Some get reported and some dont. I also think teams need to focus on building football players, not just buying championships. Some of these places have great potential but the teams spend on players instead of coaches to improve. I also would like to see more European guys taking the risk and playing in Different countries. Seeing a different face and hearing a different voice can really elevate players trying and willing to learn.