I forbindelse med Oslo Vikings avgjørelse om å delta i den internasjonale turneringen Northern European Football League til våren har jeg tatt en prat med hovedtrener Derek Mann om nettopp dette. Hvordan Vikings forbereder seg til turneringen, og alt som ligger bak avgjørelsen.
Ettersom Mann opprinnelig kommer fra Canada er samtlige spørsmål og svar på engelsk. Vi har valgt å gjengi alle svar i sin helthet.
1. Why did the Vikings decide to participate in the NEFL in the 2018 season? Was this something that came from the board/you/the players?
We decided to participate in the NEFL because we want to play against the best competition
possible. This tournament will do that for us.
This was a joint decision from the players, coaches and Board that we should compete in this years tournament.
2. What kind of process have the team been through before making the final decision to pursue NEFL in 2018?
In Mid August we had a team meeting discussing the possible opportunity of playing in the NEFL this 2018 season. I addressed the team and coaches about what I feel like our goals should be. One of the main goals was to compete in Europe. From there we conducted a player survey to see how many players are willing to commit to playing in the NEFL. The results came back with a very positive outlook on playing in the NEFL.
Once the players were behind the idea, the coaches and Board of Directors both supported the decision. We then had a meeting the NAIF about the rules and regulations and the possible tournament breakdown. After the meeting we felt like this is something we wanted to pursue.
3. How, if at all, does playing in the NEFL change the off-season and preseason preparation for the team compared to last season?
We have started Senior training earlier than past years. We had a full normal September and will continue to have a “in season “ type October. We have our players in the gym 3 times a week and on field 2 times a week. November – mid January will be heavily weightroom focused with indie type practices.Come mid January we will then be out on the field again leading up to our first game. We will have a training camp outside Oslo and also some exhibition games to get us ready for the season.
4. What are your expectations with regards to what the Vikings will get out of playing in the NEFL? What are the team goals for 2018? Both in the NEFL and in the Norwegian domestic league.
I believe if we push ourselves to play against the best possible competition we will become a better team for years to come. This is not something we want to do for one season. This is something we want to build on and compete in for many years. I believe it will help our youth programs as much as it will help our senior program. If we show everyone in our club that we are committed to this on a long term basis, only good things will come from that.
My team goal for the Norwegian Elite series is to win the Norwegian national championship. My individual coaching goal is to continue to develop as many football players as possible. A large part of development is playing and learning from game experience. With the Elite series only having 6 regular season games that is very hard to get the game time experience you need to become a better football player at the level we want them to become.
That is a reason why we chose to compete in Europe. To have more games. My main goal for the NEFL would be to compete and hopefully win some games in the process. The competition will be tough, there is no denying that. We need to raise our standards and level of play every week we step on the field.
5. How is the coaching staff shaping up for the upcoming season? Are you returning the entire staff? Any new names, any coaches leaving the staff?
As of right now we have the entire staff returning for the 2018 season. We have had two more join us throughout the Fall who have expressed and shown interest in coaching this season. I have been spoiled with the coaches I have surrounding me over the past two years since I started coaching with the Vikings. Continuity is a large part of our success. Not just in the player group but also in the coaching staff. The coaches that are in place are very dedicated and hardworking and that portrays down to the players.
6. Are there any notable Norwegian players leaving your team this fall, or arriving from other Norwegian teams?
One of the main reasons why I felt like we should play in Europe was the low turnover rate of our players. We will be for the most part the same team as last year. There will always be players who are headed to the U.S for school but that is the same as every year.
We have some new exciting players who have joined our club this Fall. Every season there are new guys who come in. A lot of people move to Oslo for work or school purposes. I am always glad when they show up and want to be a part of our organization.
7. What are the Vikings thoughts regarding imports for the 2018 season? Are you considering import players, and if so, which positions are you aiming for?
There is always the possibility that we might bring in an import player. We have not decided or talked about the matter much yet. If anything would happen it would happen after the new year.
8. Your president, Sturla Johnsen, have stated that you will not be actively recruiting from other Norwegian teams, but that interested players from other teams should contact you. What is the process when that happens?
I have reached out to a handful of Norwegian players. Mostly players who did not play for a team in Norway last season. I would not say it is “ actively recruiting.” I have asked players what their future plans are when it comes to American football. If I was a player I know I would want to play at the highest level of competition possible. Giving players that option is not a bad thing.
Absolutely players can contact me in regards to playing and joining the Oslo Vikings. My information is on our website. I have new players contact me every week via phone or email conversations. It is no different than in past years. We are always looking for players for every age group! Our training times and locations are posted on our website. As of right now we have not had any players join our club strictly because we are playing in