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Football Team Heading To Europe
Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Forty-eight members of the UW-Eau Claire football team are headed to Europe at the end of the month for a two-week tour that will include two games and a scrimmage.
Veteran Blugold head coach Todd Hoffner will serve as tour leader for a group of 75 people making the trip to Schwabisch Hall, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic and Frankfurt, Germany. Besides the 48 players, three coaches, two athletic trainers and 22 friends of Blugold football are joining the tour.
The group will leave from the Twin Cities May 23 and return June 6. The Blugolds have a scrimmage scheduled against the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns on May 26 plus games against the Vienna Vikings and Prague Lions on May 29 and June 4. Hoffner equates the three opponents to NCAA Division II and Division III caliber teams.
The total trip cost of $1600 per person is being fully funded by each individual participant on the tour. The NCAA permits teams to make a foreign trip every three years and it has been three years since Hoffner took the Blugold football team to Sweden and Finland.
Hoffner said there are three goals for the trip. Given the educational philosophy of the university in sponsoring intercollegiate athletics, one is to broaden the educational horizon of young, impressionable student-athletes by allowing them to learn about other cultures and expose them to another way of life. Secondly, he sees his team serving as ambassadors for the American sport of football and representing the university with class and pride. He also wants his team to have fun and enjoy the experience.
The game against the Vienna Vikings is their eighth annual Charity Bowl and they expect a crowd of 8,000 for the game, according to Hoffner. The Vikings are the Euro Bowl champs and have a 7-0 record in Charity Bowl games. European teams are allowed six Americans on their roster.
The Prague Lions have won the Czech National championship four of the last five years. The Schwabisch Hall team is a member of the German Football League, considered to be the best in Europe and the Vikings were a finalist in this year's Euro Bowl.
NCAA rules permit the Blugolds to have 10 full pad practices prior to departure and the team is in the midst of 6 a.m. workouts. With final exams on the docket next week, the team will work out Friday, May 20 from 3-5 p.m. and also Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m. to noon on the Simpson Fields before departing.
- TP -