Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Cheering on Old friends

LONDON Olympians head coach Riq Ayub will be backing old pal Jim Tomsula to get one over American football legend Ray Lewis in Sunday's Super Bowl.

The big game that takes place between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans this weekend, will be the last ever game for Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, considered the finest defensive player of his generation, after 17 seasons of hard hits and trash talk. 

However, Ayub, who leads South London's very own gridiron legends – having won two European titles and a record 13 British championships – will be backing the Niners to win their sixth Super Bowl.

The association with Tomsula, San Francisco's defensive line coach, goes back 15 years, when Tomsula got his first professional coaching job – right here in London with the Monarchs of the NFL Europe League in their final season, 1998, before folding.

Tomsula moved to the Scottish Claymores from 1999 until they were shut down in 2003 and kept in touch with Ayub.

“My heart's really with the 49ers because of coach Jimmy Tomsula,” Ayub explained. “He's helped me in the past so I'd like to think I'm going to root for him. There is a little bit of sentiment towards No 52 (Lewis).

“Jim used to coach at the Monarchs and I used to spend some time with him and his defensive line, I went to the States to spend more time with him and when he went to the Claymores, we stayed in touch and every opportunity he had to spend time with me he gave me quality and I appreciate that.”

The Olympians attracted more than 100 people to their NFL-style combine recently, and Ayub hopes that can be a springboard to help getting the team back to the top of the UK game after they reached the national semi-finals last year.

“Last year we did magnificently, getting to the semi-finals, winning the games we thought we were capable of winning and being competitive in the others,” Ayub said. “We want to be more competitive. We want to narrow the scores.

“Ultimately, we want to win all our games, but we have to be realistic. Last year we were green, this year we're a little less green, but we're green and we'll see what happens.

“We've had a few additions that are experienced and are going to help us. We've had players who have never played football before but are good athletes, and we'll see how much they put in and how well we coach them and see if we can get them ready to play football.”

By Ben Saunders

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