Monday, 25 March 2013

Interview with Josef Åhman

Interview with Josef Åhman

Double Coverage: Despite American football being the biggest sport in the USA, in most other parts of the world it's still at various levels in its development cycle. Was there any particular reason why FISU felt like now was the right time to add an American football WUC to the schedule?

Josef Åhman: It was IFAF who started this process some years ago. FISU has been positive throughout the process, since American football has a strong base in university sports. There is a process that new sports have to follow before they are accepted and American football filled all requirements. 

For example there are 100 university teams in Europe and 250 university teams in Asia. The Swedish University Sports Federation has a tradition of introducing new sports on the FISU program, so we have followed the process closely and decided to send in our candidature as soon as there was a possibility.

DC: What was the FISU's motivation for having the first tournament staged in Uppsala?

JA: We presented a bid that FISU believed in. The Swedish University Sports Federation has a good track record of arranging FISU events. We also have good co-operations with IFAF and the Swedish American Football Federation. We also have a very good working relationship with the Uppsala 86ers – one of the strongest clubs in Sweden, who has arranged the national championships the last years. Their President Martin Söderberg will be the project manager of this event.

Our candidature was also strengthened by the fact that the World Championship is organized in Stockholm 2015. Moreover, the Swedish University Sports Federation has a long term co-operation with the universities in Uppsala, the city and the region to establish the city as one of the leading cities in Sweden in international university sport.

DC: Has there been any specific dates set for the tournament yet?

JA: The dates are April 28th to May 10th 2014. However, they have not been officially confirmed yet.

DC: Is there any age restriction on the players? Who is eligible to compete?

JA: Yes, the FISU conditions for participation are:
·         Being 18-28 years (born 1986-1996 for the Championships in 2014).
·         Having the citizenship of the country one represents
·         Being a student (or having obtained an academic degree or diploma in the year preceding the event).

DC:  Do you know which teams/countries will be allowed to compete and is there a qualifying process?

JA: It will be 8 men’s teams – IFAF rules 45 players/team and 8 women’s teams  – 5v5 player IFAF rules 15 players/team (ED: In short 8 men's and women's teams, men can have a 45 player roster and women play 5 on 5 with a 15 player roster). All member federations of FISU (163 countries at present) are allowed to register a team. 

So far we have received intentions to participate from around ten countries. Since American Football is brand new on the FISU program, the technical regulations (that will also regulate the qualification process) have not been finalized yet. Normally the qualification is based on world ranking (a combination of FISU’s and the International Sport Federation in question).

DC: Has the format of the tournament been decided? Will it be a straight knockout, league structure or a combination of the two?

JA: This is also to be confirmed. The suggestion is two groups of four teams playing each other, followed by semi finals and finals.

DC: How do you see the student game around the world developing through FISU?

JA: From my point of view, I think American football has great potential to develop within FISU. International university sports is a powerful movement that has grown immensely during the last couple of decades, both in quantity and quality. The Universiades are world class events and the World University Championships are also growing in importance. There are many examples of sports that has spread globally through university sports and the queue to join the Universiade or WUC program is long.

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