QB Kyle Callahan is back for another season at the controls of the SWARCO Raiders offense. Photo by Schellhorn.
When a handful of football fans came together in the fall of 1992 to hold the very first practice in the history of the SWARCO Raiders Tyrol none of the attendees could anticipate how their crazy idea would turn into one of the most successful teams in Europe.
Today the SWARCO Raiders are a model of consistency on and off the field and their partnership with The Oakland Raiders is the only one of its kind worldwide. On Saturday, March 24 (kickoff 6 a.m. PT/2 p.m. CET) the Austrians open their 20th season on the road at the Kornmesser Rangers.
The rise of the Tyrolean team started in their very first season. Undefeated and with point total of 158-11 the Raiders marched through division three, advancing to division two immediately. After some tough years the team finally established themselves in the 2nd division and when the Austrian Football League increased its number of teams in 1998 the Tyroleans were promoted to the AFL. Only two years later the Tyroleans played in their first Austrian Bowl.
Thanks to continuously improved work with their youth squads, which won its first titles, the Raiders became a consistent threat in the AFL. And in 2004 all the sweat and tears and passion the many players, coaches and club members had invested since founding the team were finally rewarded. The Raiders won the EFAF-Cup (European club tournament) and added their first Austrian Bowl championship to their trophy case just shortly after.
Another major change happened in 2006 when SWARCO Industries became the naming rights partner, changing the team's name to SWARCO Raiders. The front office's increased professionalism was mirrored on the field as the SWARCO Raiders won another Austrian Bowl title in 2006 and added the Eurobowl championships in 2008 and 2009.
In 2011 the Tyroleans added another chapter to their rich history. Instead of hiring another American coach, the team from Innsbruck signed German Shuan Fatah to be their next head coach. Fatah immediately upheld his reputation as the "lord of the rings." He came, saw and won. And kept winning and winning. At the end of his first season the SWARCO Raiders had captured their first "double" in team history, having won the Austrian Bowl and the Eurobowl in the same season.
Now entering their 20th season the SWARCO Raiders won't rest on their laurels. With three of last year's "imports" coming back (QB Kyle Callahan, WR Talib Wise and S John Clements), proven veterans like RB Florian Grein, LB Forian Hueter as well as newly signed import LB Chris James and a group of young and talented players such as RB Andreas Hofbauer, DB Markus Krause and OT Michael Habetin, the Tyroleans want to defend their top spot in Austria and in Europe.
Watch the SWARCO Raiders 2012 season live and on demand for free on www.raidersTV.at.