When talking about American football in Switzerland – Calanda Broncos always come first to mind. With 9 championship titles under their belt, and 1x EuroBowl title among other titles, Calanda have always been at the top in Europe. And, this year, they’re joining CEFL!
Dani Zinsli of Calanda Broncos took the time to share their team story!
The founders of Calanda Broncos is a group of three guys who were infected by the football virus after watching live games in USA. They were so excited about it that they decided to start a team in Switzerland. On May 25, 1991 it was time. About 20 people took part at the initial meeting in Landquart. After that, they have put in a lot of effort to recruit players at events or in the street.
It was not that simple, since only about 60,000 people live in the valley of Alps.
Nevertheless, the number of players grew steadily. At first, the Broncos were still playing in Landquart. But soon they realized that there was more audience and sponsor potential in Chur. Therefore, they moved to the capital Chur, the oldest city in Switzerland.
Since then, the Broncos play at the foot of the mountain Calanda, which name was later used as the club name (renaming of Landquart to Calanda Broncos). What emerged from an idea of a small group is today a widely respected association with about 200 members.
Initially, training was organized based on football literature. No one have ever played American football before. Therefore, it was not surprising that the Broncos lost all games in their first season. Nevertheless, the Broncos trained hard and never gave up. The winter training sessions in deep snow are still unforgettable, plus there was no gym available. In 1993, it was time and the Broncos were able to get the first victory in the club’s history. This was celebrated like a championship title.
Broncos hired their first US coach in 1994. And results started showing. Team established itself in the NLC and promoted in the NLB. Years after that, success
went up steeply: Commitment of the first import player and promotion to NLA in 1996. Blood and sweat payed out. In 1998, only seven years after founding the team,
Landquart Broncos participated in the Swissbowl for the first time. They lost 14:13 by failing the winning FG seconds before the end. It should not be the only final participation of the Broncos. One year after – Broncos lost the Swissbowl again in front of home crowd in Chur. The third attempt, in 2003, brought the Broncos their first league title in club history.
After 15 years of steady success – team’s first fall came in 2005: after losing a lot of starters, Broncos had to go back to the NLB. Even in this difficult time, the Broncos held together and succeeded in the 2007 season to get the re-promotion to the NLA. In the first NLA season in 2008, the Broncos, as promoted team, came to the Swissbowl. Since then, the Calanda Broncos have been in the Swissbowl every season: 11 times in a row! The Swissbowl has been won 9 times, which makes the Broncos the most successful team in Switzerland.
Internationally, Broncos were able to celebrate considerable success. With the victory in the EFAF Cup in 2010 and the victory in the Eurobowl in 2012, they were at the top of European American Football. In 2013, they dropped out in the semifinals off the EFL, and in 2014, Broncos participated as one of the founding teams in the newly founded Big6 tournament.
From that point forward, Broncos focused increasingly on the Swiss championship and on building an equally powerful squad with more local players. Therefore the Broncos waived the participation in European tournaments.
Work with the domestic players has paid off. In 2018, Broncos felt strong enough to be a part of a European League again. After a dramatic 31:33 defeat against the GFL team – Potsdam Royals, Broncos missed the EFL final. Now, Calanda Broncos are ready to fight for the CEFL crown in 2019.
All the success throughout the years is due to the loyal fans and players. Since the population in the Chur Rhine Valley is not high, many local players come from different valleys. Making it a well-functioning team is not easy. Nevertheless, the club always manages to maintain the team spirit.
In addition, club was always run by people who gave both their heart and time. One of the most important motto of the Calanda Broncos is „Whatever it takes“. Take on any challenge. No matter how difficult it seems. This is also why the team took the challenge of being the first Swiss team playing against a US college team. Of course, Broncos had no chance to win that one. But, playing internationally has made the team stronger.
One of the goals is to get more young people to play sports. Therefore, the club offers free football lessons to schools. Coaches and players visit the schools and bring the kids a little closer to our fascinating sport. Every year,Broncos help at summer sports camps for kids. Furthermore, Broncos have regularly participated in fundraisers.
Fans & Support
Nowadays, Calanda Broncos are known throughout the region. Everyone knows the Broncos, although American football is still a marginal sport. The many great successes and clever marketing contributed to the fact that the Broncos in their small but fine stadium always run into well-filled stands.
The city of Chur and the canton of Graubünden have not ignored this either. Broncos are well supported by the city and canton. Titles are therefore also appreciated and honored.
In 2018, the Broncos were even voted Graubünden Sports Club of the Year. In addition, a full 120 yard turf field will be completed by the city of Chur in 2019 for American football. This new stadium is expected to be finished in 2021. Besides the government support, Calanda Broncos can look forward to many generous sponsors. Sponsor support is unique to the Broncos. For three years there is even the patron club Calanda Broncos, which has supported the Broncos enormously and has become one of the most important pillars of our financial foundation.
It is no coincidence that the Broncos are now the most successful and well-known American football team in Switzerland. Even before the re-promotion to the NLA in 2008, a five-year plan was created. Already in the beginnings, three years after the foundation, club began to form junior teams to secure the move of well trained players.
Today, Calanda Broncos team up for each junior department. Each year junior players are successfully added to the senior team. Many former juniors are today top performers of the men’s team.
After the re-promotion in the NLA in 2008, a five-year plan was created. The Broncos invested a lot of money in imports, which not only played, but also helped to train the juniors. The success brought more fans, players and sponsors. European tournaments and import players also made the local players better. Since winning the Eurobowl in 2012, the number of import players has been reduced. Today, the Broncos can keep up with their own domestic players with top teams in Europe and with the mentioned founding of the patron club Calanda Broncos, financial stability is also ensured for the future.