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Russia decide American Football champion

Published time: October 09, 2012 11:12
Edited time: October 09, 2012 15:13

The Moscow Patriots American Football squad. (Image from moscowpatriots.com)

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The Moscow Patriots have claimed the Russian national American Football finals over the weekend as the sport tries to increase its fledgling fan base within the biggest country on Earth.

­It's a world away from the NFL, but for the teams from Moscow and Chelyabinsk, who were competing in the Russian American Football Final, this was their very own Super Bowl.

The sport is growing quickly around the country, and in just two years, the number of teams competing has more than tripled.

But for Vasily Dobryakov, who's helped to coach at a college level in the States, there's still room for improvement.

“It’s growing, but should be more popular,”
he said. “It’s right what we need in Russia. It’s a contact sport, team sports, with good looking guys playing tough game.That’s what we’re looking for.”

American football receives very little exposure in Russia. There are hardly any games shown on cable, while the rules and terminology are more than alien to almost all sports fans.

There are no Russian's in the NFL, or even in the college system in the US, which would certainly help to raise the sports profile.

However, Dobryakov can see this changing in the not too distant future.

"I really believe we’ve got some players, who can play in the NFL,”
the coach stressed. “We have couple of players from Europe in the NFL now. So, I think we too can do it. I really belive that. Someday there’ll be Russian players in the NFL.”

All the players in Russia are amateurs. They receive no funding, so they have to finance all their expenses themselves, as well as holding down another job.

There are only around 500 playing at the highest level within the country and Ivan Stelmakh is one of them.

He took up the sport after seeing it in films, and for him, there's nothing else he'd rather be doing.

“It's a contact sport, and it's the kind of game where you can let out all your adrenaline on the field, but it stays on the field,”
Stelmakh said.
“Once you come of the pitch, you are fully relaxed and friends again with the opponents. I love this sport – my wife isn't always happy we me – but this is my life.”

The final was eventually won by the Moscow Patriots, who beat the Chelyabinsk Scouts, who come from Russia's Ural Mountains, 35-21.