Sticking with the theme of our first “Got Game” article, we dug deeper and talked with another talented Lion with plans for a successful future and goals that involve hard work and determination.
Jason South is the newest addition to the Leipzig Lions’ Defense. Originally from Sarnia in Ontario, Canada, Jason was born and raised on a farm and comes from a family where American football was the sport of choice, admired and practised by both his brothers and his father.
He tells a life story similar to American teammate Patrick Fitzgerald’s in this sense, and also in terms of using football to overcome the loss of an important male figure in his life.
It was his father who first introduced Jason to the sport in 2001: “My father was always big into football and had a great and knowledgeable career and wanted to share his passion with my two brothers and me.”
Despite his roots being strongly tied with American football, Jason was always open to all kinds of sports.
He played rugby, basketball and even soccer. He admits that the latter wasn’t the best choice for him: “soccer never worked out because I would always get a red card for hitting people.”
Another significant reason for him to stick with American football was his grandfather, who lost his battle with cancer in the same year Jason was introduced to the sport. “He was my best friend, so his death hit me hard.”
However, Jason realized that life is about overcoming obstacles, so he decided to take the negative energy and apply it to the game, which resulted in his having a very successful first year as a player of American football.
Playing the sport means combining two of his biggest passions: having physical contact with other individuals and working out. Spending so much time with people with similar interests means forming new relationships and ultimately, joining a sport family that works fine both on and off the field.
Besides that, as the new Lion explains, one has to be prepared to handle stress and pressure, which are to be met on the way to success.
Since I am a total stranger to everything involving playing sports on a professional level, I wanted to ask what led him on his way to playing American football as a Lion in Leipzig. On top of that, I wanted to know how the process of importing players in sports works in general.
Because the age of technology involves everything being dealt with online, the recruiting process is no different. As Jason explained, there are two recruiting sites online (Europlayers and Podyum). The sites offer jobs not only in Europe, but also in Asia and Australia.
The choice is yours: You can either be active and contact the organizations yourself, or you can sign yourself up and wait for a response from one them. Jason opted for the first option:
“I had messaged a bunch of teams all over the world. The Leipzig Lions had messaged me showing interest so I did my little research on the organization and the city itself.”
At first, Jason didn’t know much about Leipzig (apart from the fact that Napoleon lost one of his big battles here) but after looking into it in detail, he felt like it was an excellent opportunity.
And as he admits, it turned out to be true. Upon their first encounter, the guys on the team were very welcoming, despite some of them speaking very little English.
But getting to know each other through playing together, language barriers were broken and Jason and the rest of the guys became friends, both on the field and outside, playing, training, working out and celebrating together.
As for other foreign players, Jason has never been on an organization with other “imports” before, so this in itself is a first for him, too. However, Patrick, the Lion introduced in our first “Got Game” article, has been very helpful for Jason; they even became roommates:
“He helped me find my way around the city, tips on Leipzig and helped me get situated, so I am very thankful for that.”
Besides that, they are, according to Jason, getting along well. It’s interesting for him to be in contact as a Lion with an American playing football, sharing his knowledge and introducing rules as they are used in the States.
Jason is eager to promote the Leipzig Lions team, which is headquartered in Grünau, near Allee Center.
The team practices three times a week for two hours and they usually have a game every two weeks. However, the Leipzig Lions is not only about playing American football: They also have a successful junior team, flag football teams and cheerleaders. So it’s a much bigger organization than meets the eye.
“A lot of hard work goes into making these programs run from the community, parents, the board of directors and our team president, Jan-Eric Siebenborn,” says Jason of the non-profit organization and team, which is turning 25 years old in 2017.
Since Europe is most known for its successful soccer and ice hockey teams, playing American football isn’t recognized as much. Jason feels it’s his mission to help grow the great sport of American football, because it’s his passion. He finds it to be one of the best physical games in the world, together with rugby and hockey.
Jason is confident in his team mates and knows that together, they are keen on working hard to achieve their goal; to win the GFL 3 East title and move up to the second division.
So the best thing left for us is to encourage the boys as much as possible and keep our fingers crossed for them to achieve their goals.
The next Leipzig Lions game is on 29 July, in Leipzig, against the Spandau Bulldogs.
Cover shot by André Bandermann.
If you’d like to nominate a sports player to be featured in our Got Game column, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.