IFAF World Team Development campers got to meet IFAF alumnus Bjoern Werner. From left to right - Takahashi Kobayashi (Japan); David Strobel (Sweden); Dominik Klein (Germany); Bjoern Werner; Andreas Lid Nøttestad (Norway); Nicolas Khander (France); Luiz Domingues (Brazil); Gianluca Santagostino (Italy)
Today was a special day for players participating in the The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) World Team Development Camp when they had the chance to meet 2010 IFAF alumnus and Florida State Seminole Bjoern Werner. Werner, the 2012 ACC Defensive player of the year and consensus All-American, is training alongside other top prospects preparing for the NFL at IMG Academy in the Combine/Draft Training Program. A native of Berlin, Germany, Werner was a member of the first ever IFAF World Team in 2010, and played with other notable IFAF alumni such as University of Alabama DT Jesse Williams (Australia) and University of Arizona DT Aiulua Fanene (America Samoa).
"IFAF was such a great experience, and just being there the whole week with all the people from around the world, you learn a lot," said Werner of his own IFAF experience. "I met guys from America Samoa, Australia and other places from around the world ... and if you stay on the same path, you will find people to stay in contact with and [go through these experiences] with you."
Much like the players participating in the IFAF World Team Development Camp at IMG Academy, Werner had to find his path to reach the highest level of the game. He transferred from Germany to a U.S. high school as an exchange student and played two years of football in the United States before earning a scholarship to Florida State University. IFAF coaches and personnel consider Werner a role model for the younger players in the program today.
"Meeting a guy like [Werner] has an unbelievable effect on these young men, to see someone who was in their same situation just a few years ago, and now is going to become an NFL football player," said Tuomas Heikkinen, head coach, IFAF World Team. "Those examples, those role models, are exactly what this world needs for the sport to grow in the future."
Werner set aside time from his training regimen to meet the players and talk with them about the challenges of being an international player. The players asked Werner about playing for a BCS conference school; how he earned a scholarship; and many other questions about his experiences and what they could do to find their way to the next stage of their football careers.
"[Werner] has done what everybody wants to do, so it's very inspirational for me to get to ask him how he's done it so I can hopefully do the same thing," said defensive linemen David Strobel (Sweden). "It was a great honor to meet him, because people back home compare me to him just because I'm German born, so it was good to finally see him in person."
Another player, tight end Luiz Domingues (Brazil) remarked, "I see a lot of myself in his story, because I only played two years of high school, and I want to go to college and then to the pros, so meeting [Werner] was motivational for me, and an example of everything I want to be to take it to the next level." The IFAF World Team Development Camp had a lighter, recuperative day today in preparation for tomorrow's game. They focused on movement and flexibility in the morning, with light scrimmages and drills in the afternoon. Tonight, they will all gather on campus for a special viewing of the BCS National Championship game between the University of Alabama and Notre Dame. Tomorrow's game will serve as the training finale for the players, and is scheduled to take place at 2:00 p.m.
More photos from the day: