When we left off with this installment, Corné Heijnen and The Rotterdam Trojans had just won the National Championship. Football continues outside the United States (and surrounding areas that watch and/or play), believe it or not.
Enter a new subject to share his story, Mr. Gert-Jan Bruinsma. His football story begins around 1981-82 when he experienced his first full-contact football practice for a newly-started team: the Mountaineers. His recollection was a bit more physical in nature than our last player.
“Watching it, I immediately fell in love with it. I liked the hitting. All I knew was martial arts. In this game, I was allowed to hit, smash and make takedowns without getting punished for it. My first practice was great. In that time it was hard to get equipment especially if you didn't had the sources. So I was forced to practice without some. Half a year later I finally got my stuff. I felt like a gladiator. Kaboom — full speed hits and tackles; great,” he said.
Bruinsma spoke of his coach at that time, Jim Duckett, and described him as “a special man with his heart at the right place who taught us all the principles.” This was about the same time that quite a few teams were also in their preliminary stage — when football was booming. Teams such as the Amsterdam Rams, Crusaders Utrecht Vikings, and Den Hague Raiders. Note how some of their names are replicas of NFL teams. Thy also had two divisions.
His Mountaineers were in the South which had three teams: Mountaineers, Wolverines and Jaguars. Some were teams that had a “harder start.” Apparently, teams like the Rams had about 40 players, whereas smaller teams (like the Mountaineers) had about 20, if they were lucky. They played what was referred to as Iron Man Football: offense, then defense, then special teams. Never coming off of the field so that a “team” was on the field at all times. The New York Football Giants love versatile players, but ones that could hardly move in the days after a game would never make it! An interesting fact from that time of a one league, 2 division time: they were only allowed to have four US players on the roster and could only let them play two at the time. There will be more to come from Bruinsma and how his football “quest” began. He’s currently in MMA fights.
One other player/coach of interest (who is also an admitted New England Patriots fan) is Mr. Joost VandenBogert. He started playing in 1986, and played with our “patriot” of Giants 101’s delve into all-things-football in Europe, Corné Heijnen. VandenBogert is currently also with the Rotterdam Trojans and echoes the fact that last weekend, they capped off an undefeated inaugural season (10-0) with the D3 championship. He underplays his time as a quarterback that actually played and had a brief stint with the Amsterdam Admirals (of the now-defunct NFL Europe) where he worked with the likes of NFL-caliber quarterbacks, Kurt Warner and Jake Delhomme under the offensive coordination of Joe Clark under head coach Al Luginbill. Joost also had coaching internships with the St. Louis Rams and LockHaven Bald Eagles in 1998. He recently visited stateside to Boise State University as a “refreshment course.” Word is that BSU also has a large Dutch connection.
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