Belgian American football team take on Slovakia in Ostend

The busy international Autumn American football season kicks off this weekend in Europe as Belgium’s national team – the Belgian Barbarians – will play host to Team Slovakia Saturday in Ostend, Belgium in the Treasure Cup. For the Belgians, this will be the first of three games the team will play over the course of the next eight weeks.

American Football International Review's Roger Kelly writes:

"The Barbarians are preparing for their important IFAF Europe qualifier against the Netherlands in October. Belgium has already played a game earlier this year against Team Kuwait, defeating them easily in Kuwait.

Slovakia is playing their first contest in two years in preparation for their qualifier against Switzerland September 26.

Belgian head coach Lee Rosky has assembled and experienced staff which includes co-offensive coordinators Pauwel Depreitere and Alan Verbraeken, running backs coach Christof Lauriers and offensive line coach Andreas Bröckers, co-defensive coordinators Peter Haest and Jean-Marc Bottin, defensive backs coach Christophe Olenaed and special teams coach Georgy Baudart.

The Barbarians played one game in 2014 losing to the Netherlands in the Treasure Cup and then traveled to Kuwait earlier this year and won handily. After this game they will face Poland in September and finally play Holland in a qualifier for IFAF Europe Group B competition."

Belgian Coach optimistic

“We have had 10-12 good practices and even though the players have not played a full game since the end of the Belgian season in June, they are excited to step on the field on Saturday.

“We had 100 players try out for the team and the roster we have is as good as it gets in Belgium. We look at these upcoming three games as the early steps in building a solid programme.”

Starting quarterback Tomasz Firstz is very versatile according to Rosky.

“Tomasz is a hybrid. He can sit back in the pocket and throw or he can take off with the ball as well. He is a true leader and the other players look to him to set the tone.”

Running back Arkadi Meerschout is dangerous and a veteran of the national team as is wide receiver Ruben De Ruyter. The offensive line is anchored by center Daren Wonke.

On defense Belgium relies on defensive lineman Stijn Dossche who played in Germany for the Marburg Mercenaries before moving back to Belgium with the Ostend Pirates. Linebacker Frederic Casteels plays in the GFL2 in Germany with the Cologne Crocodiles.