March 31, 2023

Because the NFL’s curiosity in Europe continues to develop, the Chicago Bears are one in all solely two groups to settle in Spain.

The Bears have simply accomplished a visit there with former offensive lineman Roberto Garza because the group’s superb spokesperson as a bilingual speaker. Garza, who began 145 video games for the Bears in 10 seasons – the fourth-most lineman within the membership’s historical past – spent 5 days operating two Mini Monsters youth practices, visiting Madrid and Barcelona.

“The children cherished it,” Garza advised the Tribune. “You could possibly inform that they had by no means held a soccer match earlier than. By the tip of the camp that they had mastered a few workouts. The message was to provide 60 minutes a day to train, wholesome way of life promotion, flag soccer and bears. It was very humorous. Youngsters are delighted. It was an enormous success for me.”

Spain has a small soccer presence with youth packages, flagship soccer leagues, a semi-professional league and the Barcelona Dragons competing within the 17-team European Soccer League.

In January 2022, Bears and Dolphins gained entry to Spain by the NFL Worldwide Dwelling Market Space program. This certified them for “advertising, fan engagement and commercialization as a part of a long-term strategic effort to allow golf equipment to construct their world manufacturers whereas spurring development within the NFL fan base internationally.” Nineteen groups have entry to 30 IMHAs in 10 international locations – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and the UK.

The Bears and Dolphins held a joint fan occasion and recreation viewing occasion on November 6 at Soldier Area, the place the Dolphins received 35–32 regardless of three landing passes from Justin Fields, who additionally ran 178 yards. Sean Gale, Tremendous Bowl XX entrant and Professional Bowl quarterback, joined former Dolphins vast receiver Nat Moore for the occasion.

Throughout their journey to Spain, the Bears entered the group, laying the groundwork for a possible comeback.

“There have been a few children who got here with the Bears gear,” Garza mentioned. “There’s a fan base there. They develop the game.

“I think about that now, after that camp and all these children sporting mini-monster t-shirts, there will probably be quite a lot of them. There are packages devoted to soccer, so it was nice to work with them and introduce the sport to youngsters who should not concerned in sports activities and the Bears model.”

The Bears ran an analogous youth clinic program in the UK final summer time with former vast receiver Johnny Knox and tight finish Kasim Sinsno. However with the IHMA program, the franchise can get extra alternatives in Spain.

In 2022, the NFL performed 5 worldwide video games: three in England, one in Munich, Germany, and one in Mexico Metropolis. The league has pledged to host at the least three extra video games in Germany by 2025. In 2023, the Buffalo Payments, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans will play dwelling video games in England, whereas the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs and New England Patriots will probably be dwelling groups in Germany.

Spain is “our focus” for the upcoming recreation, Brett Gosper, the NFL’s head of Europe and the UK, advised The Related Press in November. The aim of the NFL, in fact, is to manage the tv scores of the game all through the world.

When the NFL expanded the common season to 17 video games in 2021, it outlined a plan that might require every workforce to play one worldwide dwelling recreation each eight years. The Bears performed two common season video games in London and one in Toronto, every time as a visitor. The Bears performed pre-season video games in Dublin, Eire; Berlin; Gothenburg, Sweden; and London. In 1961 they performed an exhibition on the Montreal Alouettes.

“We’re hoping there will probably be a recreation (in Spain) sooner or later,” mentioned Gustavo Silva, the Bears’ supervisor of youth soccer and group packages, who accompanied Garza on the journey. “We wish to play there. It could be nicely obtained.”


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