A Documentary series that follows an American coach (and his players) in his 8th season coaching in Europe and traveling the world.
Why this project
American football is the most popular game in America but so many people don’t even know that football is played in over 100 countries throughout Europe, South America, and Asia. Since my first season coaching in Europe in 2007, I have seen the game grow exponentially from the first professional football league in India, to the Polish Super Final having over 20,000 fans (which is the most at any American football game in Europe with the exception of when the NFL comes to Wembley stadium in England) But there is still so much room to grow. I have met people all over the world who had no idea there was an American football team in their very own city. In Europe alone, American football is played in;
Even coaches such as Mike Leach (Washington State), Doug Plank (former Chicago Bear legend and AFL coach) and Reuben Droughns (Super bowl champion with the NY Giants) have all coached overseas. Some foreign players to make it to the NFL are Sebastian Vollmer (Germany) Osi Umenyiora (England) Bjoern Werner (Germany) and many more.
Who We Are
Lonnie Hursey – My name is Lonnie Hursey and I have spent the last 8 years traveling in Europe to coach American football. All my life I loved football and wanted to travel the world. Living in Olympia Washington my whole life I could not wait for a chance to get out of there and see what the world have to offer. In 2006 I got in contact with a team in Reus, Spain called The Imperials. After a couple interviews I was up against 2 other coaches who had a combined 70 years of coaching experience and I convinced the team to hire me instead. On January 7th 2007 I headed to the airport for my first trip outside of North America. We ended up winning the teams first LNFA2 (Spanish 2nd division) National Championship, and I had the time of my life. From that time I knew I wanted to see and experience different cultures all over the world. I took a job in Hamar, Norway for the Hamar Ruins where they won only one game the year before and when I was there we lost one game in the regular season and were the Seriesmasters (league champions) but ended up losing in the Semi finals. After that I received a job in Hassleholm, Sweden for the Hurricanes where the team never had a winning record. That season we ended up 7-3 and to this day is the teams only winning season. In 2010 I stayed home because I received the OC job for South Sound Jr College football club and was the OC for 3 seasons during the European Off season. My journey took me to Helsingor, Denmark to coach for the Kronborg Knights and then I got a very special job offer to head to India to help launch the very first professional football league there. I had the chance to work with some very good coaches and even NFL legend and Superbowl champion, #46 himself Doug Plank. From India I headed to Trondheim, Norway to coach the Nidaros Domers. My last two stops were Kragujevac, Serbia to coach the Wild boars of Kragujevac where we made it to the Serbian National Championship and the Central European Football League Championship Games. And the last but not least was Poland and that is where I will be coaching the season as the OC for the Zaglebie Steelers of the Polish top league.
Jean-Francois – Born in France in 1979. I discovered American football in the 90s when it finally got on TV there. After graduating in English literature, language and civilization I was trying to find my professional vocation. While working in the French administration in 2009 I finally bought my first DSLR camera and traveled to the Balkans. After visiting Belgrade 5 times in the course of a year I made the decision to move there. I found a regular job but left it cause it was not fulfilling for me. After some time I won the 2nd place in a photo contest and started thinking that it was something I would love to work on. Not long after one friend told me to come check out one of her friend, who was playing American Football in Belgrade. I had no idea there were teams all over Europe till then. Of course I had brought my camera and the team liked the photos I made. They asked me if I was interested in doing that for all their games. With that little of a background in photography I accepted and did it for free as teams don’t get a lot of money in Serbia. My photos got better and another team offered me to travel with them to their EFAF games (European championship). On the side, a rising internet magazine enrolled me to take photos for them of events, fashion, parties, products etc. Through this 2 years I took thousands of photos and started shooting videos on requests (BTS for shootings of famous Serbian photographers Stefan Kokovic and Nemanja Maras, video clips for Wannabe Magazine, campaign for Black George clothing, etc). In 2012, the second team I was working with had a new coach, Lonnie Hursey and every time they called me to come to their city to shoot a game. Him and the imports were hosting me. Later on he asked me if I would work with him on a project he had for some time to make a documentary about American football in Europe. The idea was so appealing, that after he moved to Poland to work for a new team I went there too to make it happen.
Jeff Thompson – Born in St.Louis, Missouri, Jeffery Thompson has garnered success in a wide range of media. Short and feature films, music, art, comic books. He has a slew of films in development all the while working on his musical ventures. An entrepreneur, Thompson has scored a shoe partnership with the upstart company, Inkkas.
About A Ticket to The World
Over 3 years ago I was watching The Discovery Channel and I saw a commercial about submitting ideas for your very own show. Right away I thought of the Idea of following an American football Import though out his season in Europe. So many people in the United States have no clue American Football is played in Europe or the rest of the world and its a great way for player after college who don’t make it to the next level or guys who get cut from the NFL to continue their career and get to experience a different culture in the process. Lets face it, people love drama and football is nothing but drama and excitement . Also its the most watched sporting event in the entire world. Watched by people in over 130 countries. Football allowed me to travel all over the world, meet thousands of wonderful people, experience many different cultures, try authentic food from every place I have been, meet my future wife and mother of my child (arriving April of 2014). I want to give all back by helping others live their dream getting paid to play the greatest game in the world in different countries.
What We Want To Do
The whole goal of the project is to make a 13 episode documentary series to bring attention to and show that the greatest game in the world is played in over 100 countries. To get more Americans interested in playing overseas when their college or NFL career is over. Usually after a college football player graduates and the NFL or CFL are not calling. Right away they start to look for a job and start their “real life”. So many of these kids just want to keep plying the game they love and most of them would love the opportunity to travel and experience a different culture. We also want to show how players in Europe juggle their family, school and personal life along with playing football since outside the United States these players have to pay to play their beloved game. The story will follow me and our other imports in our day to day life and show the audience what it is like to be an import in Europe. How football is played in compared to the United States, and how players adjust to picking up and leaving everything they know to live and play in a completely different culture. Following our team from off season workouts to preseason and all the way through the season. I want to showcase some of the most beautiful places in Poland and the rest of Europe as we travel to see other countries championship games and show how different they are. Championship games we want to showcase are:
- Polish Superfinal (Poland)
- GLF1 Championship (Germany)
- Super Series Final (Sweden)
- Mermaid Bowl (Denmark)
- Italian Superbowl (Italy)
- Maple League Final (Finland)
- EFAF Cup Final (International competition)
- IFAF Champions League
- Eurobowl Final (Best teams in Europe)
- FFFA Final (France)
- Group A tournament (Top national teams in Europe)
- Austrian Final (Austria)
Now some of these games we will not be able to go to and show our viewers since some are on the same weekend and some might interfere with our games.
EVERY WEEK we will be posting a new video to show where we are in the project as well as updating everyone on how things are going. Everything can be seen at our website www.safety-blitz.net.
What Are The Funds For
I know $30,000 sounds like allot of money, but in terms of making a movie, documentary, or series its very little. We have a very small crew who are just as passionate about this as I am, and are all working for well below their market value. They are amazing friends but there are still costs that can not be avoided. When traveling to see some of the championship games in other countries we will be traveling the way most imports do. Cheap airlines, trains, buses, hostels (up to 16 best in a room) ect. We want to bring the real import experience to the viewer.
Here is a list of coaches and players who have worked overseas that we will interview.
- Doug Plank – 8 year NFL career with the Chicago Bears, 46 defense named after him by Buddy Ryan for his hard hitting, AFL Coach of the year (2005 and 2007), Assistant coach for the NY Jets and Atlanta Falcons
- Reuben Droughns – 6th Leading rusher in Oregon Duck history, Drafted in the 3rd round by the Detroit Lions, Superbowl Champion (XLII with the Giants), Played for the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, and the New York Giants, Coached in Serbia for Vukovi Belgrade
- Tony Simmons – University of Wisconsin, Drafted in the 2nd round by the New England Patriots, 5 seasons in the NFL with the Patriots, Browns, Colts, and Giants, 4 seasons in the CFL with the BC Lions and the Edmonton Eskimos, Played in World Bowl (NFL Europe Finals) with the Barcelona Dragons, Player/Coach in Denmark, Hungary, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Serbia
- Deante Battle – 3 year starter at Northwestern University (cornerback), invited to the Buffalo Bills mini camp, one of the original coaches for the Elite Football League of India (EFLI), has played football in Brazil, Finland, Germany, and Poland
- Aki Jones – DL aFordham University, Patriot League sack leader in 2002, 2003, and 204, played the 2005 season with the Washington Redskins. Has played in Poland, Sweden, and Finland
- Corey Williams – 4 year starter at the University of Washington, Invited to Seattle Seahawks mini camp, Manchester wolves, and the San Jose Sabercats of the AFL (Arena Football League) played for the Belgrade Blue Dragons in Belgrade, Serbia
- Ike Whitaker – QB at Virginia Tech, #3 duel threat QB coming out of high school, Playing QB for the Wild Boars Kragujevac in Kragujevac, Serbia
- Dextrell Simmons – Linebacker/Nickleback at Boise State University, playing LB for Vukovi Belgrade in Belgrade, Serbia
- Jamal Schulters – DB at Temple University, Invited to New York Jets Mini Camp, Has played football in Italy and Poland
- Khiry Battle – LB at the University of Arkansas and Memphis University, played football in Poland for the Worclaw Giants
- Meech Eaton – LB at Northwestern University, invited to Chicago Bears mini camp, played on Team USA (2x), played football in Finland, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Poland
Follow The Campaign
Every week we will be adding videos and updating the website with, blog and photos so make sure you follow us on all 4 of the outlets below
ESS’s own Lonnie Hursey and his Documentary series that follows an American coach (and his players) in his 8th season coaching in Europe and traveling the world. This is a must read and Please support him if its only a few dollars.
ll is the most popular game in America but so many people don’t even know that football is played in over 100 countries throughout Europe, South America, and Asia. Since my first season coaching in Europe in 2007, I have seen the game grow exponentially from the first professional football league in India, to the Polish Super Final having over 20,000 fans (which is the most at any American football game in Europe with the exception of when the NFL comes to Wembley stadium in England) But there is still so much room to grow. I have met people all over the world who had no idea there was an American football team in their very own city.