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  • Writer's pictureTwm Owen

British Talent Shines in the Fourth Season of the European League of Football (ELF)

British Talent Shines in the Fourth Season of the European League of Football

Photo: Hannes Jirgal / Vienna Vikings


The fourth season of Europe’s premier football league starts this weekend and will feature more than 20 players with links to Britain.


While there is no British franchise in the European League of Football (ELF) it hasn’t overlooked the talent the UK has to offer with most of its 17 teams featuring at least one British player or players who’ve gained their football education here.


It’s a mutual exchange as last season’s league MVP, Jadrian Clark – who led Germany’s Rhein Fire to a perfect season and the ELF championship – spent his winter off-season studying and playing in Bristol where the former NCAA FCS QB helped the UWE Bullets to a third successive BUCS university league national championship.


He has returned to Duisberg, the steel town north of Dusseldorf, where he will once again link up with one of the best-known, and highly rated, Britballers in Europe, Fire RB Glen Toonga to mount another challenge to conquer the continent.

Suspension meant former London Blitz ace Toonga couldn’t make his first start for the Rhein Fire until five games into the club’s 12-game regular season in 2023 but in the eight games leading into the play-offs he rushed for 926 yards and nine touchdowns and was selected to the All-Star team for a second straight season.


Toonga wasn’t the first British player to win an ELF championship. The 2022 champions Vienna Vikings featured Matthew Daltry and Toby Lettman on the Offensive line while Linebacker Kadel King and Defensive lineman Wayne Drew were on the reserve list when the Frankfurt Galaxy won the inaugural ELF Championship game in 2021.


You can catch no less than 11 players who have come from the Britball community in the league’s opening games this weekend Saturday, May 25th starting with the Vikings travelling to Hungary to face the Fehervar Enthroners (1 pm BST).


Looking to blaze a similar trail to Toonga is former London Warriors Running back Dwayne Obi who has signed for league newcomers Madrid Bravos after registering 1,400 yards on the ground and 15 touchdowns with the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in the German Football League (GFL) last season.


British Talent Shines in the Fourth Season of the European League of Football

Photo: Paula Romo


Also aiming to make the step up from what had been regarded as Europe’s best league is lightning-fast receiver Tommy Wilson, who boasts a 4.27 40-yard dash time, and has signed for Italy’s Milano Seamen having started as a rookie with the Oxford Saints in the BAFA Adult Contact League Division One in 2022.


Here Inside Britball gives a rundown of the British players, and those who’ve played in Britain, who will be in action for 16 of the League’s 17 teams that are spread across nine countries and will battle their way until two teams advance to the September 22 Championship Game at the VELTINS-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, for which the league says more than 25,000 tickets have already been sold.


Players from Britain in the ELF (European League of Football)


Barcelona Dragons

Stephen Mccluskey TE

Age: 26

Height: 188 cm / 6' 2''

Weight: 110 kg / 243 lbs


A former captain of Bristol’s SGS Pride team the Motherwell native played in the BAFA Premiership for the East Kilbride Pirates. At the same time, he was still a teenager and his time in Bristol earned him an opportunity at NCAA D2 Northwestern Oklahoma State University where, as a walk-on, he earned a scholarship and was also named a captain.


After graduating in Health and Sports Science Mccluskey took his talents to the GFL’s Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns where he recorded 13 catches for 168 yards and two TDs in a season that ended in defeat in the GFL Bowl.


Munashe Nunurai DL 

Age: 24

Height: 188 cm / 6' 2”

Weight: 140 kg / 309 lbs


The heavyweight D-lineman started in the BUCS league with then Premiership side the University of Hertfordshire Hurricanes and went on to play with the London Blitz before moving on to the GFL with the Berlin Rebels in 2022 and spending last year with Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (GFL).

 

Khalid Adisa CB

Age: 22

Height: 182 cm / 5' 11.5''

Weight: 87 kg / 192 lbs


A late addition to the Dragons roster, the former NFL Academy player is currently a student at the University of Nottingham and part of its highly-rated Gold BUCS team. Adisa also won the Deestroying CB v WR challenge, at Tottenham Stadium last year, which has been seen more than 1.3 million times on YouTube.


An attendee at this year’s CFL combine in the UK Adisa has played at the London Blitz u17s and u19s and Great Britain Under 19s.



Berlin Thunder

Harry Sayer OT

Age: 24

Height: 194 cm / 6' 4.5"

Weight: 136 kg / 300 lbs


Starting right tackle at the Milano Seamen last year Sayer began playing in 2019 at Leeds Beckett Carnegie in BUCS and played for the Yorkshire Rams in 2021, the following year was in the GFL 2 North with Hildesheim Invaders earning him an EFL opportunity in 2023.

 

Fehervar Enthroners

Benjamin Dixon OT

Age: 26

Height: 193 cm / 6' 4"

Weight: 145 kg / 320 lbs


Another Leeds Beckett Carnegie lineman won the BUCS national title in 2019 who also played for a Yorkshire side in 2021, the Sheffield Giants, and started his career on the continent the following year with the Hamburg Huskies of the GFL 2 North the following year where he also rotated as a Defensive tackle.


Last year Dixon started nine games at right tackle for the Barcelona Dragons in the ELF.

 

Henry Rowland TE

Age: 23

Height: 193 cm / 6’ 4"

Weight: 109 kg / 240 lbs


A 2023 GB international, from Orpington, Rowlands is a product of the NFL Academy having attended its first UK combine, in 2019, with the main motivation of meeting NFL star Odell Beckham Jnr and having never played the game previously.


COVID-19 limited playing time at the Academy but his raw talent, size and athleticism benefited from high-level coaching and Rowlands turned down multiple Division II NCAA scholarship offers and played instead at Loughborough University and was rewarded with a Division One championship in 2022/23.


The following season Rowlands undertook a Masters, at Leeds Beckett, and in the summer played for Premiership North Tamworth Phoenix, from 2021 to 22, and spent last season with Britbowl finalists the London Warriors.

 

Hjalmar Nielsen DB

Age: 24

Height: 185 cm / 6' 1"

Weight: 89 kg / 196 lbs


The Danish player attended the SGS Pride in 2019/20 and went on to play for the Potsdam Royals in Germany becoming GFL champion last year.

 

Hamburg Sea Devils

Michael Keshinro DE

Age: 27

Height: 198 cm /  6’ 6”

Weight: 110 kg / 243 lbs


Another product of the British university league Keshinro started with the Keele Crusaders in 2016 and moved into senior football with the Essex Spartans (now Essex Tridents) in 2020 earning a move to the GFL in 2023 where seven sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss last year saw him recognised as one of the best defensive players in the league.

 

Toby Naylor LB

Age: 23

Height: 189 cm / 6' 2”

Weight: 105 kg / 230 lbs


Another from the SGS Pride with US college experience. Naylor started playing with the Solent Seahawks Academy in his Southampton hometown and after two years with the Pride progressed to NCAA Division III Brevard College in North Carolina where he captained the Tornadoes and in five years registered 254 total tackles, 38 tackles for loss and four interceptions in 45 games. He was twice a USA South D3 All-conference selection.

 

Deon Mutsvanemoto OL

Age: 27

Height: 190 cm / 6’ 3”

Weight: 129 kg / 284 lbs


Born in Zimbabwe, Mutsvanemoto, who has been named in the provisional 2024 GB Lions squad, started playing in 2018 with the Coventry University Jets and after a BAFA Division One summer with the Sandwell Steelers began his lengthy European travels as a D lineman with the Dusseldorf Panther the following year.


He’s since played in Finland’s Maple League, the Murcia Cobras in Spain on the O line, in 2021, and later that year played for the Berlin Thunder in the inaugural ELF season. He followed that with a season playing for the St Ouen Cougars in France and back to the GFL last year with the New Yorker Lions where he also supported the injury-hit D line.



Helvetic Mercenaries

Michael Kimpiabi DT

Age: 26

Height: 195 cm / 6’ 6”

Weight: 140 kg / 285 lbs


Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo Kimpiabi moved with his mother to Switzerland aged three and began playing in 2015, moving to the SGS Pride in Bristol for a year in 2017. He’s been in the ELF since joining the Stuttgart Surge in 2022 and returned to Switzerland last year when the team was known as the Helvetic Guards.

 

Madrid Bravos

Dwayne Obi RB

Age: 26

Height: 188 cm / 6' 2"

Weight: 110 kg / 243 lbs


There will be plenty of interest in the former Coventry University Jets back following a successful season in the GFL. A UK champion with the London Warriors in 2019 Obi earned his German opportunity after scoring two touchdowns for the GB Lions in a narrow October 2022 defeat away to European Champions Italy. The law graduate, from Bexley, spotted the loopholes in opposing defenses while representing the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions and rushed for 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2023.


Obi also has the brawn to match, he recorded 20 reps on the 225lb bench press at the 2022 CFL Combine at SGS Bristol.

 

Connor Bolton OL

Age: 27

Height: 196 cm / 6' 5"

Weight: 136 kg / 300 lbs


Can play right guard and right tackle and was also a long snapper at the Fehervar Enthroners last year. His first club was the Maidstone Pumas, in 2019, two years later he attended the NFL’s International Player Pathway Programme combine and joined the London Warriors which led to him joining the ELF with the Berlin Thunder in 2022.

 

Jonell Pelie LB

Age: 29

Height: 180 cm / 5' 11”

Weight: 95 kg / 209 lbs


The German speaker from Wood Green, London is one of the most experienced Britballers on the continent having played internationally since 2017 – just two years after winning a national junior championship with the London Blitz. He played for the senior side, which featured Glen Toonga at RB, the following year before making the move to the GFL’s Allgäu Comets. Having settled in Germany, Pelie has also played for the Cologne Crocodiles and was with the Cologne Centurions in the ELF in 2022 before returning to the GFL in 2023 with Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns.

British Talent Shines in the Fourth Season of the European League of Football

Photo: Paula Romo


Milano Seamen

Tommy Wilson WR

Age: 22

Height: 182 cm / 5' 11.5"

Weight: 89 kg / 196 lbs


Described as possibly the fastest player in the ELF Wilson caught the eye – at least of those who didn’t blink- with a blistering 4.27 (laser timed) over 40 yards at the Seamen’s 2022 tryout. That would have put Wilson in the top five receivers at the 2023 NFL Combine.


However, Wilson opted for Germany and the Dresden Monarchs where he finished among the top five in the GFL in total receiving yards with 1,161 and 16 receiving touchdowns, numbers which were unlikely to have been predicted even after posting seven touchdowns from just 26 receptions in a 2022 rookie season with the Oxford Saints in BAFA Division One.


Wilson was also a kick-off returner in Dresden where he helped the Monarchs to the GFL semi-final.

 

Michiael Abera Jote LB

Age: 26

Height: 181 cm / 5' 11.5''

Weight: 96 kg / 212 lbs


An Italian international who has played for SGS Pride and Bristol Aztecs in the BAFA Premiership. Last season he played in the IFL for Guelfi Firenze.


Panthers Wroclaw

Keanu Ebanks LT

Age: 29

Height: 198 cm / 6' 6"

Weight: 140 kg / 309 lbs


Another of Britball’s most experienced foreign legion Ebanks first headed to Germany and the Hildesheim Invaders in 2018. He’s since also played for the Stockholm Mean Machine, in 2020, and earned ELF all-star honours in 2021 after starting all games at left tackle for the Hamburg Sea Devils.


An attendee at the CFL’s first UK combine in 2020 Ebanks signed for the Calgary Stampeders in 2022 and returned to the ELF in 2023 with the Paris Musketeers.


He only took up football at Hull University, in 2013, and just weeks later established himself as a starting tackle for the Sharks. Also played for the Humber Warhawks, Doncaster Mustangs and hometown Leeds Bobcats before playing in Germany.

 

Paris Musketeers

Lewis Thomas OL

Age: 26

Height: 190 cm / 6' 3"

Weight: 130kg / 286 lbs


A GB Lions international, with dual British/French citizenship, Thomas has built a reputation as one of the best O-linemen in the ELF voted to the All-star first team and all-pro first team offence during his first season with the best rushing offence in the league, at Hamburg, in 2022 and voted a second team all-star with an underperforming, and pass heavy, Milano team last year.


Thomas played with the University of Nottingham as they began their rise to the top of the British University game, in 2016, and was a Britbowl champion with Tamworth Pheonix in 2017 and represented the club in the North European Football League, against the Copenhagen Towers, Carlstad Crusaders, and the Oslo Vikings, the following season.

 

Toby Lettman OL

Age: 29

Height: 200 cm / 6' 6.5"

Weight: 140 kg / 309 lbs


The former TCU Horn Frog from Surrey started with the Farnham Knights in his home county in 2016 which set him on the path to Saddleback Junior College in California later that year. A scholarship at TCU came a year later though he transferred to NCAA Division II Missouri Southern State University in 2018 staying for two seasons.


Since college Lettman, who can play across the line, has been a member of the Frisco Fighters of the Indoor Football League and joined the ELF in 2022, winning the championship, with the Vienna Vikings where he was named a first team all-pro before crossing the Alps to the Tirol Raiders last year.

 

Prague Lions

Lawrence Cornwall-Baptiste OL

Age: 27

Height: 194 cm / 6' 4.5"

Weight: 140 kg / 309 lbs


Having started with the London Warriors youth team in 2014 Cornwall-Baptiste went on to play for Portsmouth University’s Destroyers before returning to the Warriors and sealing a move, in 2022, to the Berlin Thunder where he spent two seasons establishing himself as a versatile lineman and one of the best run blockers in the ELF. He has covered 40 yards in 5.09 seconds as an NFL IPP combine attendee, which would have put him in the top 20 O linemen at the main 2024 NFL combine. Won the BUCS national title with UWE Bullets this winter.

 

Stuttgart Surge

Simeon Okonta-Wariso LB

Age: 28

Height: 187 cm / 6' 1.5"

Weight:  115 kg / 255 lbs


Last year’s EFL runners-up have strengthened on defence adding a former CFL global draft pick who won the Grey Cup with the Toronto Argonauts in 2022 and stayed in Canada through to 2023 before playing the last seven games of the ELF season with the Hamburg Sea Devils where he recorded 22 tackles, one sack and three tackles for loss.


The Derby native knows all about speed and power having studied motorsport engineering at the city’s university and has also played for the London Blitz and in the GFL 2.


Chad-Adri Walrond S

Age: 24

Height: 180 cm / 5' 11"

Weight: 90 kg / 198 lbs


Born in Bridgetown, Barbados and raised in Rochester, Kent the speedy safety started playing when he joined the Hurricanes football team days after enrolling at the University of Hertfordshire in 2017. Since then Walrond has played for the London Blitz, and the GB Lions and spent 2021 in the GFL with the Allgäu Comets which earned an NFL IPP Combine.


This will be Waldron’s third season in the ELF having started with the (since withdrawn) Koc Rams in 2022 before transferring after two games to the Cologne Centurions, where in 15 games through to the end of 2023, he made 69 tackles, including seven tackles for loss and one interception. Also a returner on special teams.


Raiders Tirol

Isaiah Kléberg OL

Age: 23

Height: 193 cm / 6’ 3”

Weight: 148 kg / 326 lbs


From the Netherlands, Klebérg played with the SGS Pride in Bristol from 2019, and with stops across Europe, this will be his first season with Raiders Tirol in the ELF.



Rhein Fire

Glen Toonga RB

Age: 29

Height: 177 cm / 5’ 8"

Weight: 97 kg / 213 lbs


An ELF all-star selection again in a suspension-shortened 2023 the former London Blitz man had been the league’s leading rusher, with the Hamburg Sea Devils, in 2022 racking up 1,468 yards and 21 touchdowns.


The former junior sprinter took up American Football while studying mathematics at Southampton University in 2013 and found with the Stags football team his legs could also boast big numbers before the ELF and has played in Poland and the GFL.

 

Max Parkinson DL  

Age: 22

Height: 190 cm / 6’ 3”

Weight: 110 kg / 242 lbs


From Croydon, Parkinson only began playing in autumn 2022 at UWE in Bristol but nine games later the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders signed him to the practice squad and sent him to junior side Regina Thunder for some much-needed experience. He played 8 games racking up 23 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 3 sacks.


At the 2023 CFL Global Combine Parkinson led all participants (Global and National) with 29 reps on the 225-pound bench press. He also led all defensive linemen by clocking 4.74 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

 

Onuora Joseman WR

Age: 22

Height: 189 cm / 6’ 2”

Weight: 86 kg / 189 lbs


The London-based wide receiver has spent time in Germany having attended the University of Dortmund. Speaks German and has played for Aigles Rouges in the French second division and has also played for the German regional league team Bremerhaven Seahawks before being announced as the last of the 53-man roster for the current ELF champions.

 

Vienna Vikings

Matthew Daltry C

Age: 27

Height: 185 cm / 6’ 1”

Weight: 132 kg / 291 lbs

 

From Culbokie, Scotland the 2022 ELF champion had played for a short period in childhood before concentrating on rugby but began taking American Football more seriously when he started studying history at the University of Leicester.


He followed his university experience with a move to the Giessen Golden Dragons in GFL 2 before a long spell with the Helsinki Roosters in Finland’s Maple League.


Until this season the only Scotsman in the ELF Daltry was named a second team all-star last year.

British Talent Shines in the Fourth Season of the European League of Football

Photo: Vienna Vikings


Others to mention

Unconfirmed reports that Harrison Hobson is on the Cologne Centurions roster and Jos Cremers of the Frankfurt Galaxy was born in Britain but grew up abroad and learnt his trade in Germany and the US.



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