Once we had splurged on that NFL Game Pass at the end of September 2015 there was no stopping us, we watched as many games as we could cram into our schedules. Towards the end of the year, after having watched American football pretty much on a daily basis for three months, Lakisa suddenly asked me if there were any football teams, maybe even women’s football teams, in Germany.
Yeah, sure, probably, I guess. Something along those lines. The question took me by surprise, because I hadn’t thought about playing myself for even a second. Lakisa’s a good bit younger than I, and she’s also more sporty, so it’s no surprise that she was the first to have that idea.
We researched a bit and found out that, yes, Cologne has in fact two football clubs, one of which has a women’s team too. It’s the Cologne Falcons, the women’s team is called Cologne Falconets (which is not the correct term for a female falcon I think, but, yeah…).
Despite my age (I was 39 at the time) I really liked the idea, stoked about the sport as I was, so we both decided to attend to a tryout training in January 2016.
It was great! I couldn’t move for almost a week after mine, muscles were hurting I hadn’t known I had, but I didn’t have that much fun doing any kind of sport before. Lakisa was very enthusiastic too, although she was a bit worried about the injury risk from the start.
We both decided to become members and play for real.
The first months were great. I quickly became fitter than I had been in two decades and training was fun. Come March we began preparing for the season in earnest though, and the game became exponentially more physical and complex. That I tried myself at Linebacker, the most sophisticated position on defense, didn’t help. There wasn’t really time to tend to newbies anymore, and most of the time I didn’t know what I was doing. After 3 1/2 months I decided that I’m too old for that kind of stuff after all and quit with a heavy heart.
Luckily Lakisa fared better. She became Cornerback, trained, played season games and reached the Playoffs with her team.
During the season’s course she had to witness some of her teammates getting injured pretty badly though, and decided to call it quits after that season. She doesn’t have a job where she can afford to call in sick for weeks or even months, so I totally understand that decision.
Still, we were both a bit saddened that it didn’t work out as intended, and I for one refused to accept that I’d never play football for real.
Luckily for me Lakisa stayed in touch with some of her teammates and in their facebook-group, because in December 2016 she became aware that the Falcons would found a second men’s team in January, specifically aimed at newcomers. I was overjoyed when she told me, and I instantly knew that I would seize that opportunity.
We started training at the end of January. As promised we were taught the game from the ground up. The coaching staff is great, the atmosphere focused yet fun. Not every player who joined the team persevered, it is a demanding sport. Those who stayed became a tight-knit group, the usual rivalry aside even offense and defense get along really well.
Since this isn’t the NFL our average heights and weights are not even close to those of pro players, hence our head coach decided that with 1,90m (6’3″) and 94kg (~207 lbs) I’d be needed as a Defensive End. I was a bit disappointed at first that I couldn’t play Linebacker, but I have to say DE is a great and fun position and I wouldn’t have it any other way now.
We spent all of last year training and becoming a team that knows how to play football. This year we registered for league play in our local football association.
We played our first league game on May 5th and won 46:12. Three more matches followed, three more wins. I really dig my team!
I don’t know our player’s average age. My guess is somewhere around 24, maybe less. At age 41 I’m our second oldest player (our ‘grandpa’ is an Offensive Guard who’s 45 now I think). Is the age difference noticable? Hell yeah! I’m neither as strong nor as fast as I’d like to be, and some of our Offensive Tackles make my life miserable on some days. But I also have really good and strong moments, and make some good plays. I didn’t score a sack in a league game yet, but I feel I’m getting there.
The match on that photo went 42:6 in our favor and I had a nice tackle for loss on their Running Back. I love this sport!
I don’t know how long my body will let me continue to play, but I’m having so much fun right now that I have no intention to quit just yet.