[We will continue with Vianco Martinez. First a little history about the LDFA]
In 1982, the first football team was established in the Dominican Republic. Arthur Levy was the man responsible for helping football reach its new Dominican tropical frontier but the lack of competition was a serious issue. This problem inspired a series of flag football tournaments and scrimmage games with neighboring Latin American countries, leading to the creation of the LDFA. Sadly, in September 2011, Arthur Levy passed away. His name is still revered by all involved with the league and now the championship trophy for the LDFA is named in his honor – the “Arthur Levy Cup.”
Teams: SD Raiders | Oriental Steelers | SD Sharks | SD Giants
Expansion Teams: SD Lobos | Central Crows | Punta Cana Dolphins
(Best two teams are in the LDFA. Small elimination series will begin September 8th, 2012)
*Santiago Eagles are awaiting approval to join the league
Rules/Regulation: NCAA standard rules apply, with the exception that the quarters are 12 minutes instead of the traditional 15. The athletes range in age from 16 to 23 years old.
Pre-season Games – None
Regular Season Games – 5 or 9 (depending if teams play each other twice)
Post-season Games 1 plus the Championship Final.
League Positives: This league is starting to get passed its infancy. It’s hungry and well-organized with great leaders and talented individuals that possess the passion and drive to help this sport grow. It’s gained strength and increasing credibility with the public as more and more spectators are showing up to games and more kids are joining practice every day. The league is getting hot and now sponsors are jumping on board, prospecting the possibilities and investing in LDFA.
“We have only the best people in our league. We insist on a high level of responsibility from our leaders. This is maintained through honor and a strict disciplinary code. The founders of the league are nearly all teammates from the original Dominican Raiders football team, established 1982, and we are 100% committed to the future of the sport in our land, the Dominican Republic.
– Dr. R. Levy-Tovar (Co-founder/Head Coach SD Raiders)
“The fact that my coaches devoted so much time to teach me the game makes me want to give back and follow in their footsteps…
…The reasons why we are progressing is dedication, hard work and passion.”
– Onyebuchi Ebo (Head Coach Oriental Steelers)
Yearly Team Enrollment Fee: 30,000 Pesos ($770 U.S.)
Monthly Fees: 5,000 pesos ($130 U.S.)
Average Starting Salary in D.R.: 8,000 pesos ($205 U.S.)
The obvious negative is the economical strain to both players and teams. This league relies on ticket sales, sponsors and donations, yet the biggest contributors are the players. They received a visit from ex-Chargers defensive tackle and Dominican Republic native Luis Castillo, who provided equipment and knowledge to the youth trying to get involved in the league.
The need for help remains. Most players are full-time students, don’t work, and are from low income communities. Extra pocket money is hard to come by when there are more important needs for their family. It also seems most fees don’t cover much. The majority of equipment belongs to the league and must be shared. The fees don’t include uniforms either. The sponsors are catching on to the LDFA and its potential. Local businesses and companies are jumping on board and stand to increase profit while helping these kids share their passion for Futbol Americano. Communities begin to embrace their local teams with an average attendance now at 700 spectators per game, and that number is constantly increasing. The opportunity is there for economical growth.
“Some of my teammates don’t have enough for their transportation to practice let alone the monthly payment to the LDFA. I want to show everyone the sacrifice they make to play the sport they love without anything in return…
…When we practice in full pads, we use the gameday jerseys. That’s why they are all torn or useless, at least from our team.” – Vianco Martinez (SS – Oriental Steelers)
“We could use financial support. Maybe invite coaches and referees from the USA to organize clinics and improve playing conditions.” – Onyebuchi Ebo
I asked some of the Oriental Steelers players why they play football and not soccer or baseball, as they are the most common sports in D.R. There answers were..
“I follow the entire season of this sport (NFL) without regard to which teams are playing. It’s the only sport in the Dominican Republic that falls out of the monotonic state other sport are stuck in. That’s why I play.” – Orlando Gonzalez (DT – Oriental Steelers)
“It was a childhood dream to play. Due to family problems, we returned to the D.R. So I never got a chance. My mother would buy me footballs and jerseys, making me the only kid around thinking about football instead of baseball or basketball. I thank God I finally got an opportunity to play in the D.R.” – Gregory Cabrera (FS – Oriental Steelers)
“A baseball game is a game of luck more than skill, can end with a sacrifice fly-out by the worst player. Luck is a huge factor. Soccer bores me. Football on the other hand is all hard work and talent. You create a reputation of how you play. Hard work shows on the field. Most underestimate me for my small size, until I run right through them. In football, from the first whistle to the last, its a battle between 22 talented men on a field.” – Vidal Sosa (OLB – Oriental Steelers)
“I play this grandiose sport because I was born with it in my blood. No other sport has the amount of camaraderie and dedication, or is as physically demanding as football.” – José Alberto Hernández (MLB – Oriental Steelers)
Awareness is the message I would like to spread along with the level of passion and talent these guys carry. I ask my readers to follow these types of leagues – not just the LDFA but your local high school or semi-pro leagues. In my opinion the future talent will be coming out of small countries and will make a big slash in the NCAA and the NFL. The LDFA is currently accepting sponsors and donations of all types. Look up the LDFA. Find them on Twitter and Facebook and get informed. Support International Football.