While the sports season officially ended last Saturday with the 26e Diamond Helmet in Thonon-les-Bains, and our thoughts go out to our French flag football delegation, let’s take the time to come back to the other international highlight of this beginning of the month: the U19 European Championship, which is is held July 7-10 in Vienna, Austria.
A major challenge for our young people since it was the first international deadline since the interruptions forced by the health crisis.
Unfortunately, where other nations have had the opportunity to resume training without delay, on French territory the evolution of the pandemic has only allowed a gradual recovery by limiting the possibilities of gathering to prepare for the competition.
Despite everything, it was with great enthusiasm that players and coaching staff met on Sunday July 3 for two days of technical practices, set-up and meetings. The opportunity to create cohesion within a group that met for the first time this year and was able to demonstrate the rigor and seriousness expected of top-level athletes.
On Wednesday 06 in the morning, the French delegation flew to Vienna and remained focused for their first match against Sweden, the next day at 11am.
“We started off well with a good return kick-off which brought us almost to 50 yards. Subsequently, we score on our first drive. You quickly feel confident. Our defense scores on their second drive. However, from then on, we stagnate. We have a harder time looking for first attempts. Small burst before half-time with a fumble which scared us but which will be without consequence.
The second part of the match will be more complicated. Sweden are still very good in defence. Nevertheless, it is the Swedish attack that hurts us. This is particularly the case with their running game and their running back #44. This one was extremely fast and you shouldn’t leave any spaces for it. Unfortunately that’s what happened on the two touchdowns he scored and on some big plays.
So we end with a score of 21-31. We fought well and we didn’t give up. American football is a sport of details and it is those details that we have to work out. »
In addition to the disappointment of seeing the possibility of reaching the top of the podium disappear, this defeat is accompanied by significant frustration since two starting players – quarterback and running-back – come out injured and will be out for the second. match. The next two days were therefore spent shooting games with the replacement personnel and making the necessary adjustments, both in attack and defense, to hope for the bronze medal. Players and staff work diligently with this goal in mind.
On Sunday July 10, it’s time to put this work into practice against a Danish team that is also determined to take third place.
From the start, the match looks defensive: the squads of the two teams won’t let anything pass and the score remains nil until the end of regulation time. Even if our offense managed to drive Denmark three times in its end zone, it will lack enough to materialize its efforts by opening the score. Two missed field goals that could have been decisive… the tension remained at its height as the match went into extra time.
The Danes fulfill their part of the contract by managing to advance to score a field goal and take a 3-point lead. Never mind ! Our attack is ready to fight and is advancing resolutely towards the endzone. On the 2 opposing yards, a first completed pass suggests a touchdown.
The celebrations are unfortunately short-lived since the referee considers that the reception is made outside the limits of the field. We have to resume. Our U19 do not deserve and will seek a new completed pass. Alas, this time a flag for offensive interference will cancel the result, adding a decline of 15 yards.
Difficult to get out of this situation given the time remaining: the match therefore ends with the score of 00-03 for Denmark.
A defeat which is not easy to digest, both for the athletes and the supervisors, and even the whole of the community which followed every minute with hope. The results remain positive because with only two days of preparation before the match, the delegation managed to produce great things and stand up to seasoned teams, with an exemplary attitude on the pitch. All this suggests a promising future, and we wish the group the opportunity to take revenge at a future international event. Until then, everyone has a good summer break, with a well-deserved rest before resuming work at the start of the school year.