#ECQT2016 | Focus on… The Netherlands

Here we look ahead at one of the teams the GB Lions could potentially face depending on the outcome of their match up against Russia, it’s their namesakes, the Dutch Lions.

American football is taking off in a big way in the Netherlands¬†and they’re capitalising on this boom in interest with some impressive performances on the international stage recently.

The Dutch Lions booked their place in the European Championship Qualifying Tournament with a 17-3 victory over neighbours Belgium in October 2015, and recently rained on Ireland’s parade, shutting them out 20-0 in the Emerald Isle’s first international game. Although the game only lasted three quarters due to weather, the gap in quality was evident.

The Lions get to pick from some of Europe’s biggest and best teams. With sixteen guys on the initial roster, the eighteen time Dutch champions and 2016 EFL Bowl finalists, the Amsterdam Crusaders are by far the most represented, but they also boast ballers from Finland’s Kouvola Indians, Germany’s Braunschweig New Yorker Lions and our very own London Blitz.

Miquel Castelen carries the rock for the Lions. Image by Sander Evenwel.

If that isn’t enough, they can also call on Axel Kootstra, who currently plays for North Greenville University in NCAA Div II, or genuine NFL talent, former San Diego Charger and Boise State Bronco Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe.

Former Amsterdam Admiral, Rey Agaoglu, heads up the coaching for the Lions, and while we’re not sure who’ll win the starting QB job out of the two impressive candidates, Sven Janssen of the Amsterdam Panthers or the Alphen Eagles’ veteran Richard Bouthoorn, we know that the Dutch team can be punishing in every facet of the game.

Against Ireland, both running backs, Miquel Castelen and Kevin Wesseling got on the scoresheet with long runs, their special teams made several key plays, including recovering their own kick deep in Irish territory, and DB Dennis de Wit iced the game with a 68 yard interception return just before the half. Defensive Lineman Kevin Bourne is more than capable of wreaking havoc on any O-Line he faces too.

Coach Agaoglu calls the shots for the Lions. Image from americanfootballinternational.com.

Keep an eye out for two familiar Britball faces. Jasper van Dooren, former Oxford Lancers coach and wide receiver with the London Blitz, will be looking to make an impact this weekend, and on the opposite side of the ball, former Birmingham Lion, team-mate of van Dooren at the Blitz and current Kouvola Indian, Jose van Oosten will hope to shut down the Czech Republic offence in their opener.

Although their opponents, the Czech Republic got the best of them when they last met in 2014, the Dutch are much improved since then and should prove a much more challenging opponent this time around.

The Lions face the Czech Republic at 3pm on Friday 16th September at Sixways Stadium in Worcester.

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Gareth Thomas

Gareth has played for the Birmingham Bulls and Sandwell Steelers, and as a frustrated offensive play-maker craves only the sweet rush that comes with interceptions. He joined Double Coverage at the request of Rob Amor and is only here until he's picked up by ESPN or Sports Illustrated.