EFAF is followed by IFAF Europe
EFAF committed to further growth
As a new decade starts EFAF is facing new challenges and is determined to continue on its path of growth. The last ten years have been quite a successful era in the history of American Football in Europe, so just to keep up with expectations set by the pleasant developments in the past turns out to be a serious challenge. The EFAF Board of Directors has set up its short- and mid-term goals for the next two and four years respectively - and the tasks will demand considerable efforts by everybody involved in promoting American Football throughout Europe, no matter whether within the organisational ranks of EFAF itself or within its member federations.
Therefore it is good news that the workload may be shared by more shoulders than ever: In comparison to the start of the century the number of member federations in EFAF grew by 40 percent. Adding the accessions of the Ukraine and the Czech Republic just shortly before the turn of the millenium the EFAF today consists of nearly twice as much national federations than a dozen years ago. While American Football in Europe started - nearly at the same time - in some of the bigger countries on the continent in the 70's, during its first 20 years of existence the countries where American Football was played more or less remained the same. Just some of the smaller countries joined in, but overall the development was directed by co-incidence rather than strategy.
The struggle that the federations of the Czech Republic and the Ukraine had to overcome to finally be part of the European American Football family, led to a change of strategy by EFAF in 2000 and to the rise in membership to 21 national federations by now. No longer new member federations had to fulfill all expectations at once - send their champion into the Eurobowl competition, field a national team to compete in the European Championships and field a youth national team as well, to name just some of the responsibilities a full-scale member of EFAF should have on its agenda. Since then EFAF offers „Europe a la carte“ for federations all over the continent. No longer barriers for newly formed federations are artificially erected, because they are not able to quickly reach the standards, set forth by the nations with a longer tradition of American Football. Compared to the situation in the 90s the developmental help given out by EFAF to federations in countries new to American Football nowadays is more targeted at the specific local needs, be it in the fields of coaching, officiating, administering or playing. Whereever a national federation feels, EFAF action would be of the greatest help, EFAF is out to assist the federations in their local work.
This strategy pays off: With Russia (joining in 2002), Serbia (2006), Poland, Hungary (both in 2007) and recently Moldova and Luxembourg (2009) not just the number of member federations grew - moreover EFAF finally reached the state of a true European institution, spanning across the whole continent. Remarkably this year all member federations, including the above mentioned „rookies“, each will field at least one club in one of the five EFAF club tournaments. The fifth of such tournaments, the Eastern Cup, will be added to the traditional EFL and EFAF Cup like recently Atlantic and Challenge Cup have been installed. The Eastern Cup is one more good example of EFAF's strategy not to wait for the federations to be able to compete on the highest level, but instead to bring the competition to the countries in need of international playing experience and to customize it to their capabilities.
With even more nations making their debut in international play, the probability rises for more national federations joining EFAF in the near future. The federations of Estonia, Portugal and Turkey already have earned a country administrator status, so their full membership may just be a matter of time. And furthermore EFAF is in talks with the federations from Belarus, Bulgaria, Greece, Latvia, Slovenia and Slovakia on their possible future membership. So well before the end of the recently started decade it should come as no surprise, if EFAF will consist of 30 or more members by then.