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5 vragen aan… Deejay Anderson

In onze nieuwe rubriek “5 vragen aan..” interviewen we iedere week een bekend gezicht uit de Nederlandse American Football wereld. Deze week is dat Deejay Anderson, head coach van Düsseldorf Panter en AFBN Academy coach.

For those visiting Blindside and who may not know you, please tell us a bit more about yourself. Who is Deejay Anderson?

Who is Deejay Anderson? Wow. Tough question. I guess that I am still trying to figure that one out. I am a husband, father and grandfather that deeply loves his family. I work as an IT-Project Manager, which is also my dream job. I am also a football coach. After my military career, football brought me back to Germany in 1991 and I have been living here since then. Football takes up almost of every minute my free time. This would not be possible if my family was not as football crazy as I am. My wife does game-photography and my daughters have been involved with football since they were babies. My son plays for me in Düsseldorf.

The thing that drives me is my will to constantly get better at whatever I do. It all starts with work ethic and always being willing to learn. Talking about who I am and what I did/done is not really my strong suit. It is important for me to make sure that I do my best. So….who am I? If I had to describe myself in two words, those words would be… thankful and blessed!

October 8th you were one of the coaches at the first AFBN Academy Day in Tilburg. As the head coach of a German Football team it doesn’t seem obvious for you to provide training in a different country. How did this collaboration come to fruition?

Wouter and I are long time Facebook friends. We finally had a chance to meet each other personally in August. He wrote to me a few weeks later and asked if I had the time to come to Holland and help him with the camp. He stated that he was looking for a “big name” coach. That was funny because I definitely do not feel nor act like famous person/coach. I felt honored and the time frame fit my schedule. Being able to give back to the game, that had basically changed, or better said, saved my life, is almost always an automatic “yes” for me. I am thankful for this opportunity!

At that end of that same day you gave a heartfelt speech to all players attending the Academy. It seemed to really connected with them. Please take us back to that moment. What triggered it?

I only spoke about things that I identify with football and related them to things that go on in everyones life. The wish to be good at anything requires dedication, discipline and help. You have to develop a passion to do it and it has to be prioritised before almost everything else. I always tell my players, whether adult or youth players about the importance of school and family. Those are the foundations that shape our lives the most. This is the reason that we also have to be great at those things too.

The chances of one becoming a great student, son/daughter or simply a fantastic human being are much greater than the chances of playing in the NFL. No matter what you decide, it’s all about the amount of work that you put into it. This was the main message that I wanted to get across to the kids.

What, in your opinion is the biggest difference between the GFL (German Football League) en the Dutch AFBN Eredivisie and what steps should be made to close the gap? In other words, what defines the success of the GFL?

Football in Germany is even older that the GFL itself. When I started playing in Germany, it was called the Bundesliga. Over time, Germany has had a very large number of players and coaches that have tremendously help raise the playing level here. When I look at the technique that is displayed these days and compare it to that level that it was at when I played, there are worlds of difference between the two. There are also a large number of very good german coaches that do excellent work at the club and Allstar Team levels. As a result, the game has progressed in many areas such as tactic, speed and technique.

I have only had an opportunity to personally watch or see video of a few high level Dutch programs such as Amsterdam, Alphen and Rotterdam. A friend of mine coached in Nijmegen. As far as I know, there are not very many coaches that have either played or coached in a US college. This is probably the biggest difference. There are also not very many teams that can afford to pay for American players to come and play. Bringing in these two groups and also increasing the number of qualified Dutch coaches would greatly influence the level play in the Eerste divisie . After a while, Football in Holland would profit from it, just as we do here in Germany.

From what I have seen, the players in Holland are just as talented as the players in Germany. They just need to be coached better. There will always be teams that are financially better situated than most other teams. The AFBN has to make sure that the gap between the top teams and other teams closes. Raising the competition level is a must.I would personally start by educating the coaches. Then I would ensure that the players have access to camps where they can learn more about the game. Maybe doing a cooperation that is possibly State funded would also be worth looking into. This is the reason that football in France has taken off so rapidly.

Recently we’ve had the privilege of announcing your return to the Netherlands for the second Academy Day in Almere. Originally you were only supposed to make a one-time appearance. What changed and what are your hopes and expectations for this second day?

Well, nothing really changed. I had fun working with the kids and also with the coaching staff. Wouter and his staff did everything to make me feel comfortable. Everything was set up great and I had the feeling that we reached the kids. They were eager to learn and we were highly motivated to teach them. The time frame fitted my schedule, therefore it was an easy decision. I feel proud just for even being asked to return. The AFBN and the Academy are on the right road to improve and preserve American Football in Holland. As stated before, having the opportunity to be a part of that is an amazing feeling and I am deeply honored to be a part of that.

I love this game!