Russia Upsets Switzerland At American Football 36-9

Football isn’t their day job, but it is their lives. There is a small but growing and wildly energetic American football movement in Russia.

There was an attempt to start an American football league in the early 90’s, but it fizzled out and the American Football league in Russia was reborn in 2002 and now boasts 11 teams from 6 regions.

The “underdog” Russians coming out of the tunnel in Switzerland

According to the American Football International web-site, the Russians were coming, hoping for an upset.

But if you thought the Russians were coming “just for fun”, allow me to show you their rousing rendition of “Katyusha” as they exit the tunnel before the game. And I must admit, this video, which I originally saw on the social media page of the Vologda Vikings is the real inspiration behind this post. The Russian teams is amped for some American football, and proud to represent their homeland.

The first half was slow, with the Swiss holding the lead at the two-minute warning 3-0. The Russians took the lead with a Russian (sorry, I mean “rushing” touchdown) with 1:48 left in the first half. The score at the end of the 3rd quarter was Russia 16, Switzerland 9, the Swiss lurking just a touchdown away from Russia.

But with under 8 minutes left in the 4th Quarter, Team Russia decided to go into superpower mode, adding another Russian/rushing touchdown to extend the lead. The announcer stated, “As I said just a few minutes ago, I don’t think Team Russia can run the ball down Team Switzerland’s throat, but that’s exactly what they just did.” The score was 22-9 on a botched extra point.

The power of the energetic off-tune Katyushka singing in the tunnel was felt again with a short passing touchdown with 2:35 left in the game. And the final nail in the coffin was administered with yet another TD with 0:42 left on the clock. What Team Russia lacks in understanding about running down the game clock when you have a commanding lead left with only seconds left was compensated by Team Switzerland taking a short run in the resulting series to end the game. Final Score Russia 36, Switzerland 9.

You can watch the full game here, with most of the action taking place in the 4th Quarter. Enjoy!

And to all the Russians who not only are on Team Russia but give so much of their energy to their local teams around Russia, please accept my congratulations. Your energy inspires me, this is a big win for all of us in Russia!

American Football 🏈 In Russia

The city of Izhevsk, Russia is probably best known as being the birthplace of the AK-47.  But the hidden surprise for me in my visit to this industrial city located a 16-hour train ride east of Moscow was the local American Football team.

Russians are known both for their love and mastery in sports from hockey and gymnastics, to weight-lifting and cross-country skiing.  But in 20 years of living in Russia, I had no idea that there was a small, but incredibly enthusiastic American football movement around Russia.  These are men who have taken the effort and time to learn the rules of American football, train, acquire the necessary equipment, and even travel around Russia to compete with similarly fanatical teams.

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A muscular Rafis looks more like a linebacker than nose guard to me, but as he happily exclaims “It’s fun to beat up people!”.

We caught up with the team during an evening practice and were able to hear their views on playing a completely obscure sport that they love, and also their views on their favorite NFL teams.

It was fun to ask them their opinion on my beloved, yet historically beleaguered Cleveland Browns, and be pleasantly surprised as they rattled off some of the Browns’ players’ names.

The team’s defensive coordinator gave an interesting viewpoint, saying that for the team members, playing football is a fight, and seemed to suggest that it is metaphorical for the fight that they face every day in their jobs and other life circumstances.

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Even acquiring the necessary equipment is no easy task as it must be sourced from the United States.

My Russian friend Zhenya is also a big American football fan.  He and I run the Russian language “The Amerikanets” YouTube channel.  I even wrote a blog post on why my YouTube channel is in Russian, instead of English.

But the passion of these American football players in Russia challenged Zhenya and me to start another very big project:  an English-language YouTube channel about life in Russia.

With that, here is our English-language video report from our time with the Izhevsk American Football Team:

I love the fact that every Russian city holds so many hidden surprises, and I hope that we can continue to show them to you as we travel around the nation.  Who knows, we might even break some stereotypes as we journey together.

And we will continue to create Russian language videos as well.  Here is our Russian video report of the same team:

I would love to hear your ideas for future videos.  What would you love for me to not just write about, but show?

BONUS: Check out the Izhevsk team in action as they take on the American football team from Perm, Russia.