Volume 92, Issue 1

Friday, May 15, 1998

empty pockets


McKay Intercepts Swiss football

Geoff Robins/Gazette

I'M NEVER LAST FOR THE GAME WITH MY NEW SWISS WATCH. Former Mustang Todd McKay [20] is taking advantage of all the perks while enjoying his playing days in Switzerland.

By Ian Ross
Gazette Staff

You've finished your education, but the job market isn't exactly beating a path to your door. You want to travel, but don't have the cash. You love to play football, but your options in Canada are slim to none. What now?

For former Mustang defensive end Todd MacKay, the answer upon graduation was to travel to Europe to compete in one of several developing national leagues. Through the assistance of former teammate and Mustang Michael Williams and his Toronto-based liaison business Eurovision, MacKay is now playing the game he loves in Switzerland for a small contract and a lot of extra perks.

In a recent phone interview across the Atlantic Ocean, MacKay painted a portrait of his once in a lifetime opportunity. "They take care of you here. Everyone is very friendly," he said. "Certain players will take us out and sightsee through the country.

"The adjustment has been made easier because we are made to feel part of the team, part of the community and even part of a family."

With three practises a week and a game each Sunday in front of 2,000 fans, there is plenty of football to fill his athletic drive.

While the overall level of competition is not completely on par with the talent of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union, MacKay noted the size of the linemen and the speed expected from everyone on the team closely mirrors the style of play he became accustomed to over his five years at Western.

As a member of the Seaside Vipers in the Swiss-American Football Association, MacKay finds the dedication put forward by the native Swiss outstanding – considering his teammates do not make a career out of football alone.

"They work 50-hour weeks and play football as a recreational sport," the geography graduate said. "But they have been doing it for almost 18 years now, so it has become quite organized and their level of skill and coaching is really improving."

In addition to the football and culture, MacKay also hopes to make contacts during his European visit. "The associations I've made with the coaches and the players will last forever," he said. "As far as employment is concerned, you never know what doors this may open for me."

MacKay is not the only Mustang to take advantage of such an opportunity through Williams' Eurovision company. Former defensive end Sean McBurney is currently making an impact in Berlin, while former quarterback Oliver Curri is in France.

Williams, a member of the Mustangs in 1991, developed his company after playing for the Vipers upon graduation. Now, he is responsible for arranging exchanges for athletes from Western and other Canadian universities.

"It is a good life experience for these guys," said Mustang head coach Larry Haylor. "They get to explore a new culture and make contacts which helps in their personal growth."

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998