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Esslingen Raccoons

Name: Luca Weise

Position: Center, Offensive Captain (#42)

League: 5 vs 5. DFFL

Country: Germany

Can you give us some background about the Esslingen Raccoons and when they started?

We started in the mid of 2015 as a bunch of 8 friends who wanted to play football. We liked the flag thing because some of us were harmed by injuries and because it’s very dynamic and you can do it without much equipment. So, we tried it, loved it and since then we’re growing fast. Everything is organised better since our foundation day in 2015. But you should put in mind that none of us has a background in American football. Everything we know and we’re doing in practice, we taught ourselves via YouTube, watching other teams and reading basic football schemes like the good old Bill Walsh Offense. Our team is now about 20 players strong and we are practising on a weekly base. We’re really proud of how things went in the last 2 years.

Credit: Patricia Frick

We understand the German league is now a series of tournaments, as opposed to a traditional league format. Can you tell us how you have done so far?

We are the hosts of a league tournament on 8th July. On this day, some great teams like the Walldorf Wanderers, Lalo Greyhounds or the Munich Spatzen are coming to our home field in Esslingen. This will be our first-ever league appearance. We’re excited and really looking forward to it!

There are some big teams from Germany including Walldorf and the Lizzards, how do you match up against them?

These two teams have some kind of legendary status in the German flag football community. They’re doing this sports ever since and we hope to beat them both on the pitch one day. We hope this day comes sooner than later. But for now, we’re looking up to them and we’re working hard to close the gap between us and them. But we also see us as a part of the growing flag football community in Germany. Together with all the other German teams we try to make this sport bigger in Germany. So, there is competition on the pitch of course, but off the pitch we are all one big community. We should help each other and be good flag football representatives to people who don’t know the sport yet.

Credit: Patricia Frick

This year was your first Big Bowl experience, how did you feel it went?

I think it went excellent! We had a good team experience on and off the pitch. We had the chance to compete with some of the best teams in Europe. We played our first-ever game against the Wanderers and we got beaten hard (40-18) but we take away this experience and know where we should improve. But a 24th place finish out of 48 starting teams as a rookie team is a result we’re proud of. We loved the whole atmosphere at Big Bowl XI. It was a very friendly one and all about community and the love for this sport. I think we made some new friends there, too. Hello Rudi from NuOla! We do hope to be part of Big Bowl XII!

With the array of tournaments now on offer will you be looking to enter anymore such as Pink Bowl or Flagging New Year?

I love the idea of playing tournaments all over Europe one day. But for now, we  focus on doing one step after another. We’ll first try to build a competitive team for the German league and establish our organisation as a stable, well-known flag football name in Germany. We dream to be a big name in Germany as big as the Wanderers or Lizzards one day. If we reach this mark I think we will be good to go and play the rest of Europe.

Credit: Patricia Frick

What are the team’s main strengths?

The strength of our team is the team itself. We’re like 20 friends with the same attitude and goal. Everyone is helping each other to become better. When we make mistakes, we try to do them only once. The focus is to learn from failure very fast. I think that’s the main strength of our team. Also, we try to be a complete team in which everyone has his role   executing our game plan as a whole raccoon-pack. We try not to depend on one person only.

Which players should we watch out for?

As I said we try to be a complete well-functioning team with a good harmonisation. Therefore, the right answer must be “all of them”. But if you want to watch out for someone it is our #13 Daniel Csepai. Not only a very, very good tennis player but also a very fast and athletic guy who can play nearly every position on the pitch.

What is the ambition for the team?

Our ambition is to become a stable and well-known flag football team in Germany, which plays a steady role in the German league.

What are the plans for the Raccoons in 2017?

Participating in Big Bowl XI was definitely a highlight. Next highlight will follow on  8th of July. As mentioned we’re the hosts to a league tournament which is really a thing for us. Off the pitch, we’ll try to give the guests a well-organised event so everyone can enjoy the games. On the pitch, we’ll try to give our best and we’re really excited to compete against the Wanderers and all the other very good teams on that day.

Credit: Patricia Frick

For players that might want to try out for the team, how would they go about it?

Everyone is invited to join our practice! We practice every Wednesday at 18:30 pm. For further information about practice and the team you can check our homepage or our social media accounts: Facebook or  Instagram or you can watch our web-series called “Immer Weiter.” (translation: It always goes on.) on Facebook which shows our journey through our first season.

Thanks Luca! And good luck with your first tournament in July!

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