Essex Spartans Academy player Toby Garner is leaving the team and the UK after an offer to join the three-time EuroBowl winners Swarco Raiders in Austria.
Garner, 18, was on holiday watching the American Football outfit when he was offered a trial at the Raiders Junior Varsity team, which resulted in an offer to join the team immediately.
Garner has played Wide Receiver and Safety at the Essex Spartans Academy for almost three seasons, and won the Overall MVP award for the Under-19s team in 2015 as well as the ‘Player’s Player of the Year’ in 2015, voted for by his teammates.
He said: “I’ve been offered a place on the Raiders Junior Varsity team, and they have very strong ties to the Senior Varsity often with players going up to them.
“I’m looking forward to competing at a higher level, at 11v11 and to test myself against people who play the sport as a career, and not just a hobby.
“At the Spartans we trained once a week, but we trained hard. I’m hoping this will have prepared me for 3 days of training a week at the Raiders!”
Whilst Garner looks forward to the move and a new challenge, he insists he will not forget where his career started.
“I came to the Spartans a boy and I leave a man – they taught me how to play with passion, honesty and commitment.
“The Spartans have a very secure structure and if it wasn’t for Head Coach Steve Watson I don’t think I’d be the player I am today.
“Despite leaving the Spartans there will always be a part of me that chants the Spartan prayer before every game.
“I can’t thank them enough.”
Former players and some current coaches at the Essex Spartans have gone on to represent Great Britain in the sport on the international stage.
Swarco Raiders, founded in 1992, are a sister team to NFL side Oakland Raiders and are one of the most dominant countries representing American Football outside of the US.
Academy Head Coach Steve Watson said: “Toby has been a true Spartan in the three years he has been involved with us; has worked hard, been a joy to coach, and has developed into a game-changing player.
“We are all very proud of this young man’s achievements, and we wish him all the very best with his transfer to the Raiders.”
Garner is expected to move to Innsbruck, Austria imminently to take up his place.
Anyone interested in joining the Essex Spartans Academy should email firstname.lastname@example.org.