By: Daren Wonke
In July Belgium´s National Team, the Belgian Barbarians, announced the launch of their junior National Team, the Junior Barbarians and named a Coaching staff.
This is a huge and much anticipated step for Belgian Football, as Belgium has never had an official Junior National Team before. Although there have been some games between Belgian and Dutch selections, those were never approved or officially recognized by BAFL. Up to this point the only option for youth payers to improve their skills and receive coaching beyond the club level in Belgium was the Youth Tackle Development Program (YTDP).
YTDP is an initiative by BAFL that organized skill camps in Belgium as a means to further develop Belgian Tackle Football, as the name already suggests. In 2017, YTDP also put a first unofficial Belgian selection on the field against the Dutch Junior Lions. The score of 6:6, which could have potentially been settled in overtime, suggested that Belgium has some elite talent that can play on a level with an established National Program like the Junior Lions.Keeping this in mind, youth players in Belgium deserved to have a National Team for years, with the Junior Barbarians the hard work of the recent years finally pays off.
The mission of the program (in the word of HC Lee Rosky) is to
“provide a quality opportunity for the best American Football players of junior age in Belgium to improve their skills and represent their country in competition. Furthermore to help prepare Belgian junior age players in moving to the next level of play (Barbarians Senior Team, Professional Leagues or College).”
The Junior Barbarians long term vision is to build a program geared to ensuring that Belgium is represented at the European and World IFAF competitions. The selection of players will take place through scouting games, discussions with Junior Coaches and the Open Combine. All players must be committed to the program and their own development. IFAF age guidelines will be followed which means that all players must be between 16 and 19 the year of competition (2020). Coaches are planning to place a focus in the initial years on the younger age spectrum of players in order to build a foundation of talent.
Since July, quite some organizational work has been done behind the scenes, additions to the coaching staff have been made, and of course Xs and Os were discussed extensively like Coaches love it. On November 16th, a first official meeting was held where the outline of the 2020 season was agreed upon. To kick the program off, there will be an Open Combine for all interested players on Sunday, January 12th which will be followed by Team Meetings, Training Days and Weekend Camps through February, March and April. One or two games are being negotiated for the month of May.So If you are looking for elite talent, keep an eye on the Belgian Junior Barbarians, you might see the next College caliber athlete from the small country in Western Europe.
Europe’s Elite is the number one news source covering rising athletes from and within Europe. Interesting in competing for the Belgium Junior National team? Be sure to visit the Belgium Barbarians facebook page. ELITE ATHLETES.ELITE TEAMS.ELITE STORIES