In Mexico, can American football tackle ‘futbol’?


A tattooed aptness instructor runs a 40-yard lurch on a Mexico City football field. A muscular striking operative bench-presses a complicated barbell. A medical tyro soars to uncover his straight leap.

More than 70 others — lawyers, engineers, salesmen — showed adult on a recent, cold Saturday morning for a tryout, solely it wasn’t for a “futbol” team.

They were gunning for a mark in Mexico’s fledgling veteran American football league.

Panting after doing 20 reps with 100-kilo (220-pound) weights, 32-year-old striking operative Julio Cesar Lujan says he hopes one of a league’s 6 teams will breeze him in December.

“I indeed don’t like soccer during all. we unequivocally like hit sports,” pronounced Lujan, his biceps prominent from his sleeveless shirt.

As a NFL earnings to Mexico on Monday night for a unchanging deteriorate match-up, a arise of a Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional (LFA) is another pointer of a flourishing passion for a competition in a nation where soccer reigns.

The National Football League estimates it has 25 million fans in Mexico, a many outward a United States.

More than 103,000 people packaged a Azteca track to watch a Arizona Cardinals kick a San Francisco 49ers in 2005, a usually other unchanging deteriorate diversion played in Mexico City.

Tickets for Monday’s strife between a Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans sole out within an hour, with 76,000 approaching during a mutated stadium.

“The fasten has seen that this is auspicious domain to boost and enhance a general reach,” Arturo Olive, a executive of a NFL’s Mexico office, told AFP.

Two some-more NFL games are designed for 2017 and 2018 in Mexico City as partial of a NFL’s general circuit alongside London.

Olive pronounced a successful eventuality on Monday might lead to some-more games in Mexico, yet a nation is still “very far” from removing a franchise.

Crowds fill bars to watch NFL games. Mexican university clashes are now televised. Men and women contest in dwindle football tournaments.

Some 2.5 million boys and girls play non-tackle “touch” football in schools underneath an NFL module that had 100,000 participants 8 years ago.

While a contingency for Mexicans to be drafted in a NFL are slim, they can now aspire to join a LFA, that kicks off a second deteriorate in February.

– ‘Still in diapers’ –

The LFA was founded by Fox Sports channel’s NFL commentator Juan Carlos Vazquez, who recalls feeling “very sad” as a child when another Mexican fasten folded in a 1990s.

“Since then, we had a thought that when we grew up, we would have a veteran league,” Vazquez said.

The initial deteriorate progressing this year featured 4 teams from a Mexico City area, with an normal assemblage of 2,000 people per game.

The LFA is expanding a year progressing than anticipated, with a northern cities of Saltillo and Monterrey fasten a arriving season.

The 1990s fasten unsuccessful since it lacked radio coverage, sponsorships and executive experience, Vazquez said.

He pronounced a LFA has doubled a sponsors to 14 and gained some-more radio coverage, including summaries of games promote weekly by a country’s biggest network, Televisa.

But Jose Antonio Sandoval Vargas, a LFA’s sporting director, concurred that a fasten has a ways to go.

“The competition is a contention in a United States. We are still in diapers when it comes to veteran American football,” he pronounced as coaches watched intensity recruits during a tryout.

The players were paid about $75 per diversion final season, that had a sum of 13 matchups.

The new audition featured group in their 20s and 30s, many former university players with a new possibility to play.

Leonel Mendoza Gomez, 25, who played cornerback for a LFA’s Mexico City Eagles final season, pronounced his college manager suggested him to concentration on studying.

“Fortunately a veteran fasten has given many of us who are study and operative a event to exam ourselves in veteran football, though my idea in life is to turn a doctor,” he pronounced after attack a tip of a pen on a stick contrast his straight leap.

When Eumir Camacho Herrera attempted out a decade ago for a now gone NFL Europa league, he was told he was 4 centimeters (1.5 inches) too brief to play linebacker.

“The impulse that there was speak of a (Mexican) veteran league, it was a bit sparkling for me,” Camacho, 35, pronounced after using a 40-yard lurch in 4.90 seconds.

He played for a LFA’s Raptors final season, removing 4 hours of nap between dusk use and his day jobs.

“It was tough though value it,” he said.

Olive pronounced a NFL is “very closely following” a LFA’s growth and a dual might one day cooperate.

– ‘Here we go, Steelers!’ –

While a LFA is in a infancy, Mexicans have been examination Mexican university games and a NFL for decades.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and a Dallas Cowboys authority together a entertain of Mexico’s NFL fan base, gaining legions of supporters when their Super Bowl-winning campaigns were televised in a 1970s.

At a bar in Mexico City final Sunday, fans chanted “Here we go, Steelers! Here we go!” in English as Pittsburgh took on a Cowboys.

Victor Enriquez, 66, ate duck wings as he watched a diversion with his 24-year-old daughter, Giovanna, who wore a jersey of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

They have tickets for Monday night’s game.

“It was about time” that a NFL returned to Mexico, Enriquez said.

But a operative skeleton to transport to Pittsburgh for a diversion there after he retires subsequent year.

“That’s a dream,” he said, smiling.

© 2016 AFP

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