The Europe’s Elite (EE) programme has been running since 2017, and captured everyone’s imagination with their upcoming tournament. With arguably the biggest prize we’ve seen in the continent in cash value, and a spot in the AFFL, there’s been a real buzz around this fantastic opportunity. We caught up with EE Founder Evan Harrington about his hopes for the event!
Hi Evan, and thanks for your time today! Can you tell us a bit about the Europe’s Elite program and your role?
I am the founder & CEO of a groundbreaking enterprise that exposes untapped EU scholar athletes to US universities and colleges. While I was Head Coach of the Winterthur Warriors in 2017, I saw a need to institute a platform of instruction, conditioning, promoting US football.
What has made you want to pursue European representation in the AFFL?
It is the logical next step for Europe’s Elite. In 30 months EE has conducted football camps in over 10 countries, for over 10,000 scholar athletes. Flag Football gives youth in countries who lack equipment and opportunity to play the sport until funding for equipment materialises. For countries with equipment it serves as off-season training and preparation. A win-win for EE and and our newly created partnership with the AFFL.
What can we expect from the tournament?
Professionalism! Europe’s Elite with provide expertise in management, over-site, and exposure. The teams we expect to attend will be a cross section of the EU’s best Flag Football clubs.
What format will be the tournament be?
8 teams paired at random; to 4, to 2; then a AFFL 2019 Champion!
What sort of teams have signed up already?
Yes we have team from Spain, two teams from Germany, a team from Denmark, team from the UK, a team from France a open team with players who don’t have a team and the last spot for a official team is open. If successful, this venture can be duplicated with the winner of the AFFL champ coming to America.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have made inroads in the flag community within Europe, mainly the UK. What attracts the US tournament organisers and companies to recruiting European sides?
Talent! Untapped talent! Have you notice the influx of Major D1 programs making goodwill and recruiting tours in the EU lately? Over 20 colleges have contacted EE this year alone, seeking advice and guidance manoeuvring the uncharted landscape in Europe. My prediction? NFL in the EU in five years!
Exciting! On that note, European teams have tended to avoid US tournaments in the past, do you have any thoughts on the reason for this?
Intimidation of the unknown; fear of being over-matched and out played. All this can be alleviated with skill camps, weight training, and competitive tournaments which EE is committed to provide this community.
Is there a reason why the 7 man format is preferred in the States, and by the AFFL? While several disciplines and formats are played in the US, the 7 man format appears to have the most traction overall.
The reality? American Football is shrinking in many US communities. Also, the financial cost to field a 11 man team. The positive of the 7 man format is US high school teams can play year long with their core team. It also exposes youth who never played football to the sport during the off-season. Finally, off-season conditioning will be year long. On par to AAU Basketball in the US.
Do you think the European game would benefit if they adopted the 7 man format more?
Yes! And for the same reasoning as the stated above. Many EU communities can’t afford 11-30 man tackle teams. Remember, the first step is exposing EU youth to the sport.
We’ve seen AFFL games on NFL Network; is there a chance we’ll see Europe’s Elite there in the future?
If sponsors see the potential as Europe’s Elite. This tournament will be the catalyst, and with the partnership of the AFFL, the future is bright!
Where can people find out more about Europe’s Elite?
Thanks for your time Evan! We look forward to following the tournament!
Thank you FFW, for the opportunity to advance Flag Football and the future of Europe’s Elite. Again thank you and Be Elite!