#TDEU101: Many Have Tried, Most Have Failed

#TDEU101 is a guide we came up with after hearing both good and the bad from coaches, players and teams. It's designed to be a helpful tool for everyone - domestic and import coaches and players, as well as organizations who are looking to hire coaches and players.

#TDEU101: Many Have Tried, Most Have Failed

Summary: In this post we'll focus on what teams are looking for in coaches and players they're looking to sign. You might be the best coach/athlete where you're currently at, but, for Europe - it takes a special type of a person who will be able to adapt to the lifestyle, as well as manage to not get carried away by what Europe can offer.

Just like the caption says - Many have tried. It's really easy to start looking for a team (we'll be covering that soon), and it's not even that hard to get signed. BUT, the journey doesn't end there. Besides the fact that you have to be at your best at all times - every move will be judged. And, some might even be a deciding factor whether you will re-sign for the next season or move up/down the European American football ladder.

Andrej Puskas
Andrej Puskas, one of our Top Domestic Players of 2013 for Serbia, currently playing with the Novi Sad Dukes, witnessed both good and the bad on both ends. "When it comes to import coaches you always want someone who has a stable personality, who is a leader to get the guys around him for the same goal - win. To have "in - your-face" mentality, to show a lot of heart and passion, so guys would follow him and play theirs ass off for him. Also, he has to have everything planed, well organized and be ready for any situation... Has to be a great teacher, but also have the ability to listen, so he would understand his players and get to know them much quicker and better. 

Import players, have to arrive in EU physically cleared to play, numerous times players drag old unhealed injuries which ultimately lead to unfinished season and an early trip home to The States. Aside from that, imports are usually expected to share knowledge of the game and mentor domestic players daily, especially guys on same or similar position. Most of all import players have to work extra hard on practices, and ensure that they lead by example. Walking around showing off or missing practice ain't gonna get it done."

It might seem that that's not really a lot to ask for, as in - leading by the example, BUT, most get carried away and forget why they are in Europe in the first place. Most look at it as an vacation, escape from a 9-5 job, running away from child support, or making the family proud by being in Europe. And, that is exactly why most have failed.

It's all about the focus. Especially when import coaches and players are the #1 topic for any between the teams, players, etc. discussions.

Teams will know your every move. Everyone knows someone who knows someone. We're not trying to scare you, but, you must be aware of the fact that you're representing your new team more than any domestic teammate you got. 

Coach Bonds
We reached out to one of the well-respected import coaches - Coach Richard Bonds, who is also TDEU Hall of Famer. "A good import is a player that comes into a team.. He makes an immediate impact by his play, sharing of his game knowledge and experience. And he blends in well as a team player and most of all is coach-able regardless of his experience and talent.

A coach has to have a plan for advancing the team further than where they were before. It's not an easy job because you can't chose the players, they chose you. Everything you implement may not work so as a coach you have to be flexible in planning, coaching and have a high tolerance for a lot of things. But coach has to be a coach and not the party buddy and hangout friend because he/she will lose respect and authority fast.

Successful qualities are patients, tolerance, and flexibility. For players or coaches it will be far different from what you are used to, so be humble and accept what you have and make the best of it. Success is what you put into it and not what you try to get out of it!

Teams expect coaches and players to be an impact.. Make a change... Separate their team from others. No team wants to spend money on a coach and players to be average. You can get that with domestic coaches and players. Teaching, making players better than they were before and pushing them to play beyond their abilities. We all play football, but playing it the right way is the difference between teams."

Biggest disappointment for imports is practice attendance. That is one thing you have to get used to. Most teams are having the worst time on getting the domestic players to show up at practice. Help them with that. Try to motivate the guys. As funny as it sounds - but that also reflects on you. If your team is considered a 'joke', that might slightly lower your chances on getting a better deal next year.

So far you've heard a domestic player, import coach, and now - Igor Milos is a European player who became an import - he's playing in Germany for Kirchdorf Wildcats in GFL2. 

Igor Milos
"For me a good import player is someone who helps his teammates to become better players. It's very important to me that I can talk to my American teammates and they help me improve my skills! It's not just how many points they can put on the board, or how many times they can sack the QB or intercept the ball! If they don't help their teammates improve their basic skills - they didn't make a big impact then. 

In my opinion, the best definition of a great coach is this one: if he can teach you about becoming a better person and a player and teach you about life - then he is a great coach! If he can teach you just 2 out of the 3 he is a good coach! If he doesn't teach you anything - he is a bad coach, it's that simple! 

I had the luck to be around great coaches wherever I played so far, so I want to thank them for that... 

What players in Europe expect from their imports and coaches is that they help them leave the practice field better than they were when they arrived to the field! For a lot off us. playing in The States is just a dream, so we won't have the chance to live football! And that's why what we learn from them is very important!"

Most imports would get carried away by the increasing interest of local women, the nightlife and so on. Try not to show up at practice with a hangover. Or, even worse - skipping a practice.

If injured - if you can walk - show up at practice and help coach, or at least be there for moral support and motivation. Try not to be late for the practice - it's an unwritten rule that imports have to be there early, mostly because domestic players might have questions for you. 10-15 minutes never killed anyone, right? Even if most is running late for practice - that's none of your business when it comes to you showing up. You're the one getting payed to be there.

As a new addition to a European team - you want to help them advance just like Coach Bonds, Puskas and Milos said. Communicate. Give the team couple ideas on how to market the team and the game. In some countries people still think football and rugby are the same thing. Even the tinniest piece of advice can make a big difference for a team in Europe. 

Be their friend, teammate, leader and mentor. Sounds like babysitting, doesn't it? But, it's more fun, considering all the moments you'll be sharing with your new team and all the new experiences in a completely different country you might have never visited if it wasn't for football.

If you think you have all of the above covered, and that you got the "import mentality", then you're ready to look for a team! How to research a team and negotiate will be our next topic!

Mia Bajin

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