By Bjarne Plassen
In January 1998, I had the opportunity to take one semester in Seville, Spain, through my school, The Norwegian Travel College. So I did and present of my trip I searched the web for a team in that area. I came up with a homepage and an e-mail that I sent some questions to. Just a couple of days later they responded and said I was more then welcome. They had good traditions of having foreign players on the team, and in the following weeks we sent lots of mails back and forth and learnt the most necessary details about each other.
10th of January I took off from Fornebu Airport with my equipment all packed and ready to go. 3 hours later I landed in Malaga, and spent about 4 hours trying to get to our hotel in Seville. 2 days later I came in contact with the people from the club. They then picked me up and drove me to a flat that I could stay in before I found my own place. The same day I was taken to my first practice with the team. I was introduced to the Head Coach and the team Manager and they told me what they were expecting from me and what they hoped we could do during the season. At that practice it was about 20 players and we had a good practice. They wanted me to play middle linebacker, and I have always wanted to try that position, so I accepted right away.
Granada - Sevilla 0-82; one way show
Just 3 weeks later we had our first game. It was against the team's worst rivals, the Granada Surraccues, and we drove 3 hours to Granada to play them at home. At the stadium we got good lockers and we had good time to prepare for the game. Being the season opener it was about 500 people there and it was show-time with speaker and cheerleaders and all. The game was started with an introduction of the players and being called out on the field first with 500 people clapping is a great experience. The game was very tough and it ended in a loss for our sake. 34 - 23. This partially due to the fact that we had many new players and was missing a good running game.
Totally we played 4 games from February to April and we won 2 and lost 2. Unfortunately in one home game our first string QB broke his thumb and our second string QB was in Italy so I had the great experience to step in as QB (It did not end good). Furthermore, our opponents saw some serious losses too: One QB got his knee blown out and another receiver got his ankle broken. So all teams had unfortunate losses.
Sevilla Linces 1998 with Sierra Nevada as background
Some tips to those who would like to play in Spain. It is a great experience and fun, but there are some things to consider. First you should know Spanish; I learnt very early that if you dont know much Spanish, it will be hard to communicate because so few players know how to speak English. (It seems to not be a common language among Spanish people). Second, players in Spain (south of Spain) is not built the same way as Nordic people. They can look big and tough, but in most cases they are a little more fragile and lighter than us. Furthermore they don't tackle as hard as we do. So being a hard tackler has its advantages down there. And last, finding a job in Spain is extremely difficult and the clubs don't have enough money to pay for your stay. So if you want to go down, have money, or get a loan.
My opinion is that Spain is a very fun country to be in. The athletes are not the most serious but they play more fair and losing is not the worst thing in the world. They appreciate the camaraderie more. The standard of the teams in the south is like the teams in 1st division here at home. (1814s, Domers, Trolls), while the north (Chatelaine, bask-country) holds the better divisions and the stronger teams. (Much because of the Barcelona Dragons). But still; they have good teams and good players and a nice atmosphere at training and the games, and I would think that they will get better with time. I have to say, if I get the chance to go back and play, I WILL!!!
Bjarne Plassen is a player, coach and executive with the Bærum Blue Devils. He is also vice-president of NoAFF.
If you have comments to this article, send them to TNFJ and we will forward them to Mr. Plassen: