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Zagreb Thunder - the first American Football team in Croatia
By Vladimir Mihajlović | Published  01/24/2008 | Sports | Unrated
Other goals: forming a Croatian football league, foundation of Croatian Association of American Football...




Zagreb Thunder - prvi tim američkog nogometa u Hrvatskoj

Prije dvije godine, godine 2006, grupica entuzijasta koji dijele strast prema američkom nogometu osnovala je American football team ZAGREB THUNDER. Unatoč brojnim poteškoćama koja otežavaju njihova sportska nastojanja (nedostatak novca za kupnju opreme, putovanja i plaćanje terena za trening, izostanak pomoći hrvatskih institucija itd.) odlučili su ustrajati i kontinuirano nastaviti trenirati.

Treninzi su u početku izgledali tako da je nekoliko momaka nabacivalo loptu po livadi. Nakon jedne godine surovog preživljavanja uspjelo ih se okupiti 20-tak i tada je donešena povijesna odluka – organizacija međunarodnog turnira 15.10.2006. godine (Crobowl 2006). Zauvijek će ostati zabilježeno kako su prvu utakmicu američkog nogometa u Hrvatskoj odigrali Zagreb Thunder i Mustangs Trieste, koja je završila pobjedom gostiju 13:0.

Turnir im je pomogao u privlačenju medijske pozornosti, te je zahvaljujući tome na idućih nekoliko treninga Gromovima došlo preko 40 novih igrača, a među njima i dva iskusna igrača američkog porijekla (Sean Craig i Ed Kulic) te bivši profesionalni igrač američkog nogometa u Kanadi Siniša Štefanović, koji je odmah zauzeo mjesto glavnog trenera. Uz Valeria Zannottia, dotada jedinog trenera, u kratkom vremenu Gromovi su narasli s 20 članova u tim s četiri trenera, 70 igrača u prvom timu, te tridesetak juniora.

Predsjednik kluba Denis Geto tom prilikom je izjavio: "Tek sada smo sigurni kako ćemo stvoriti  velik i snažan klub, no istovremeno shvaćamo kako je puno teškog rada pred nama. Naglo povećanje ljudskog potencijala rezultiralo je odlukom o igranju pune sezone 2007. Regionalna liga američkog nogometa srednje Europe (CEFL) odbila nas je smatrajući da u svojoj prvoj sezoni nećemo biti dovoljno jaki za nastupe. Nezadovoljni njihovom odlukom sami smo okupili nekoliko inozemnih klubova s kojima ćemo odigrati desetak utakmica u 2007. godini. Na taj način u 2008. godini nećemo biti spremni samo za sudjelovanje u Europskoj ligi već i za velike pobjede."

Iako Zagreb Thunder trenira u vrlo lošim uvjetima, u 2007. godini nižu uspjehe. Odigrali su devet utakmica, doživjevši četiri poraza (dva od ekipe Belluno Grifoni sastavljene od amerikanaca iz zračne baze Aviano u Italiji).

U travnju 2008. godine Zagreb Thunder igrat će svoju prvu službenu sezonu u međunarodnoj CEFL ligi (www.european-league.com).

U Zagreb Thunder-u razmišljaju dugoročno. Postavljena su četiri Thunder - projekta: Start, Wide, Flag i Gold.

Kroz projekt "Thunder Start" utvrđeni su ciljevi za 2006. i 2007. godinu.

Nakon njega uslijedit će projekti:

a) "Thunder Wide" koji će poticati osnivanje timova u drugim hrvatskim gradovima.

b) "Thunder Gold" kojim će se pribaviti investitori za izgradnju športskog parka te time omogućiti bolji uvjeti za trening.

c) "Thunder Flag" vrhunac je projekta. Flag football vrsta je američkog nogometa koji se igra bez kontakta, primjenjiv na najmlađe igrače, te će se promicati na lokalnoj razini putem postojećih klubova i u školama.

Cilj projekta "Thunder Start" bilo je osiguranje osnovnih uvjeta za treniranje (privlačenje većeg broja igrača, nabavka opreme, plaćanje terena, troškova teretane i prijevoza).

Za 2006. godinu ispunjeni su svi ciljevi (izuzev financijskih poteškoća, naravno).

U 2007. godini cilj je bio dovesti igrače u natjecateljsku formu, uključiti se u sustav natjecanja, te pripremati realizaciju projekata GOLD, WIDE i FLAG.

Utemeljenje juniorskog pogona i posredovanje u emitiranju utakmica NFL lige na lokalnoj TV postaji uspjesi su kojima je premašen plan te otvoreni projekti WIDE i FLAG.

Denis Geto predstavio je ciljeve Zagreb Thunder-a:

"Naši budući ciljevi su: daljnje povećanje broja igrača u timu, igranje što više utakmica, uključenje u Europsku ligu američkog nogometa, te razvoj ovog sporta u cijeloj Hrvatskoj (što je vjerojatno najveći zadatak koji si možemo zadati). Ostali ciljevi su organiziranje hrvatske lige američkog nogometa, osnivanje saveza klubova, te formiranje reprezentacije - hrvatskog nacionalnog tima američkog nogometa.

Kako dosada nismo imali pomoć hrvatskih institucija prisiljeni smo potražiti pomoć u domovini američkog nogometa. Amerika je u svim pogledima ovog sporta toliko nadmoćna u kvaliteti da se mi jednostavno moramo okrenuti ovoj zemlji i iz nje nastojati preuzeti što više znanja."

Možda će nam baš ovaj tekst pomoći u našim nastojanjima i pronijeti vijest o našem postojanju do svih obožavatelja američkog nogometa te svih prijatelja Hrvatske i hrvatskog sporta u Americi.

Stoga molimo pomoć u ostvarivanju kontakata sa:

  1. Školovanim trenerima iz Amerike koji bi bili voljni doći u Hrvatsku i pomoći nam svojim znanjem,
  2. Igračima i trenerima footballa koji su hrvatskog porijekla,
  3. Osobama koje bi mogle posredovati i olakšati slanje naših igrača i trenera na edukaciju u SAD,
  4. Osobama koje bi nam mogle nabaviti novu ili rabljenu opremu za američki nogomet kao donaciju ili pod povoljnim uvjetima,
  5. Poslovnim ljudima, investitorima, sponzorima, i slično, koji su zainteresirani za razvoj footballa u Hrvatskoj.

Vlado Mihajlović

slavonski Poduzetnik

 
Zagreb Thunder - the first American Football team in Croatia

American football team ZAGREB THUNDER was founded two years ago, in 2006, by a group of enthusiasts who share passion for American Football. Despite numerous problems and obstacles that are hampering their sporting efforts (buying equipment, traveling and paying rent for sports facilities, no help from Croatian institutions etc.) they are determined not to give up and have regular practices.

At the beginning they were just a bunch of men tossing the ball across a meadow. After a year of bare survival they managed to gather twenty people and they came to a historical decision – they were to organize an international tournament (Crobowl 2006). It will always be remembered that the first game of American football in Croatia was played on October 15th in Zagreb between Zagreb Thunder and Mustangs Trieste, which ended 13:0 in favor of the visiting team.

The tournament helped them in getting media coverage and over 40 new players came to the next several practices. Among them were two Americans with playing experience (Sean Craig and Ed Kulic) and also a former player from the Canadian Football League (Sinisa Stefanovic) who became the head coach. Alongside Valerio Zannotti, who was the only coach until then, the Thunder grew from a team with 20 players to an organization with 4 coaches, 70 players, and 30 junior players.

Denis Geto, president of Zagreb Thunder, told us: "Now we can be certain that we will have a strong team. However, we also realize that there is still hard work ahead of us. The sudden improvement in player potential influenced the decision to play a full season in 2007. We were turned down by the CEFL European league due to our lack of experience when we approached them. Unhappy with their decision, we contacted several teams with whom we played friendly games in 2007. By doing this, not only will we be ready for the league in 2008, we will also be ready to win."

Although Zagreb Thunder has very low practice conditions. The team is also without any significant sponsors. Still, 2007 has been very successful. They played 9 games and lost four (two of them against the Belluno Grifoni, a team of US soldiers from the Aviano air base in Italy).

Zagreb Thunder is going to start with his first official season in Central European Football League (www.european-league.com) in April 2008.

The Thunder is also considering long term goals. They set up 4 Thunder – projects: Start, Wide, Flag and Gold.

Through the “Thunder Start” project we have assigned goals for the years 2006 and 2007.

Following projects are:

a) "Thunder Wide" which will encourage people in other cities to develop their own teams

b) "Thunder Gold" which will attract investors to help build sports facilities and provide better and improved practice conditions

c) "Thunder Flag" is the pinnacle project. FLAG football is a variation of the game that is played without contact, so that it can even be played by the youngest players. FLAG will be promoted locally through teams and schools.

The goal of the Thunder START project was to secure the basic practice conditions (attract more players, secure equipment, a playing field, a weight room, and transport expenses). All goals that Thunder set for 2006 are achieved (except the financial, of course).

In 2007 the aim was to bring the players into competitive form, join a formal competition, and prepare the execution of projects GOLD, WIDE, and FLAG. Junior practices and intercession in getting the NFL on local TV station are successes that exceeded the planned and initiated WIDE and FLAG projects.

Denis Geto introduced the Zagreb Thunder goals:

"Our future goals are increasing the number of players on our team, playing more games, joining a European League of American Football, and developing American football in Croatia (which is possibly the greatest task we could have given ourselves). Other goals are forming of a Croatian football league, foundation of Croatian Association of American Football and establishing a Croatian national football team.

Since we had no help from Croatian institutions in our previous work we are forced to seek help in the motherland of American football. United States are dominant with their quality in every aspect of American football and we simply have to look up to them and try to copy as much of that quality as we can."

Perhaps this very text will help us in our efforts and bring news of our existence to every fan of American football, every friend of Croatia and Croatian sports in the USA.

Therefore, we would appreciate assistance in establishing contacts with:

  1. Educated coaches from the US who would be willing to come to Croatia and help us,
  2. Football players and coaches of Croatian origin,
  3. Individuals who could help with sending our players and coaches to camps in the US,
  4. Anyone who could provide us new or used equipment for football (as a donation or with a discount),
  5. Business people, investors, and sponsors who are interested in developing American football in Croatia.

Vlado Mihajlović

slavonski Poduzetnik






Contact:

Denis Geto
Phone: +385 98 361 158
E-mail: info@zagreb-thunder.hr


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Comments
  • Comment #1 (Posted by Marco "Bronco" #84)

    I read and posted on Draghi udine fans club (unofficial facebook Draghi udine's group page) the story written in this page.

    I really liked it and I'd like to see the thunder documentary (30 minutes of video right?) that was inserted in the IMDB.com research engine.
    I found it and about you because I was looking on that famous movie website data base about movie speaking about "croatia" since I fell in love with your land and I discovered that my spirit was born there 24 years ago...

    I am learning also Hrvatski :)

    Drago mi je!
    èujemo se uskoro.

    Draghi Udine player.

    (some times like this summer or during the year there are camps in italy I think you might be interested in taking part to).

    I saved yagreb thunder official web site in my favs.

    Bok Bok...
     
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