x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE American football team continue whistle-stop tour

The UAE Falcons will split into two squads for a game in Abu Dhabi on Saturday as hopes are raised of a four-team league.

Falcons wide receiver Jamar Johnson, centre, and his UAE teammates had a rough outing against an all-star team from Turkey in March.
Falcons wide receiver Jamar Johnson, centre, and his UAE teammates had a rough outing against an all-star team from Turkey in March.

Undeterred by a 71-3 defeat at the hands of a club from Turkey last month, the country's only American football team make their Abu Dhabi debut on Saturday in a game at Zayed Sports City.

Kai Trompeter, the German coach of the UAE Falcons, said the team will be divided into two sides, one designated Team Dubai and the other Abu Dhabi, and will play a full-contact game on field No 2.

Kick-off is at 4pm.

Proponents of the American game continue to hope that a four-team domestic league can be created in time for a season commencing in October.

"After the game against Turkey we had about 20 new guys sign up," Trompeter said. "We have to coach them and get equipment.

"By October, we hope to have three teams in the UAE, maybe four. Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah would be our preference."

The game against the Turkish team was a learning experience for the Falcons, Trompeter said. "For 50 per cent of the guys on the field it was the first-ever competitive game of football," he said. "It will make them better, but it also brought out more people interested in playing, including several Americans who have come out of the woods."

Among the new players is a talented quarterback from Serbia, Andre Tasic, and he will lead the offence for the UAE Falcons, Trompeter said. Chris Wentzel will be the quarterback for Team Dubai.

The coach said the final score against Turkey was misleading.

The visitors were a melange of several teams, including "four paid Americans" and the bulk of the team came from the national champion Istanbul Cavaliers.

"They thought that if they sent the Mersin Mustangs, who were the team we thought were coming, that we would be too strong for them," Trompeter said.

He said his team's field goal, which came on the final play of the game, gave the Falcons a positive moment at the end of the game.

"It was the third time we had been to the two-yard line. We fumbled it once and didn't get in on another, and we discussed going for the touchdown instead of the field goal, but we decided to try to get some points, and the kick went off perfectly."

Chris Erickson, an American who had played volleyball as a collegian, kicked the three-pointer from about 30 yards.

"It was a good way to end the game," Trompeter said.

He said the game at the Dubai Sevens was seen by about 1,500 people.

The club is planning to visit all the major cities in the country.

They had 35 people turn out for an open-training session at Al Ain recently.

The game tomorrow will be comprised of four 20-minute quarters with a running clock.

He said some players will perform on both offence and defence, and the running clock should shorten the game enough to keep the athletes fresh.

He expects the two Emiratis on the team, the tight end Khalid Al Qassemi and the receiver Nader Al Mahri, to participate in the game tomorrow.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

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