You may think this is a joke, but I kid you not. With the chances of watching any type of NFL football rapidly dwindling, you're best chance at seeing live football action may be in Austria. You know, that place in Europe. That's where the U.S. Men’s National Team in football will defend its title in the fourth International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Senior World Championship.
The IFAF Senior World Championship is an eight-nation football tournament held every four years since 1999, and scheduled from July 8-16 this summer in Austria. The U.S. defeated Japan, 23-20, in double overtime in Tokyo, Japan, to win the 2007 tournament, the first that included Team USA. Prior to the United States’ participation, Japan earned gold medals at the first two IFAF Senior World Championships played in Palermo, Italy (1999), and Frankfurt, Germany (2003).
The United States will be playing in Group A against Mexico, Germany and Australia. Group B teams are Canada, France, Austria and the winner of the Japan vs. South Korea elimination match scheduled for Feb. 26 in Tokyo.
Already excited? There's even more.
USA Football is accepting nominations for athletes age 20 and older to be part of the Men’s National Team. Forty-five players will be selected from current NCAA athletes and graduating college seniors as well as other athletes age 20 and older. A training camp will take place June 28 to July 4 prior to Team USA’s departure for Austria. If you've always thought you had it in you and are still physically fit, this could be your time to shine. Apply here, it may be you they are looking for.
Michael Eschlböck, president of the American Football Bund Österreich (The Austrian American Football Association) says this could be your chance to be part of an historic event:
"Never before has there been a bigger World Championship. We play in the biggest stadiums, for the best fans. This is the first time that all the top nations in international American Football are coming together to play in the same tournament."
Quick, somebody tell the Packers that they are not really the World Champions. They may have won the Super Bowl, and may have thereby won something akin to the U.S. National Championship, but the World Championship is being played in Austria this year.
The supreme irony is that while this tournament is being played basically in my back yard, I will be on holiday in the States with my family. In Oxnard, of all places. Go figure.