For many of the fans that we have featured during our London Games season, their journey into supporting their team came almost by accident. A chance late night television viewing it would seem for many, but for Idris Lawal it was a completely different set of circumstances.
Idris used to live in America and as a boy spent many years living in Louisiana and so became a Saints fan due to them being his home team. So for Idris he grew up with the game as his main sporting choice and he brought it back with him when he came to the UK. But for him the differences are still quite clear between the two countries.
“We are still very much growing the sport in the UK so there aren’t the routes to the professional level as there are in the States. It’s massively competitive out there, even from an early age and therefore it just puts the whole game at a completely different level. I’d like to see how we could get there one day in the UK, but we’re so many decades behind.”
Idris has played American Football in this country and also works part-time as a coach for AFD so has a lot of personal knowledge to bring to his work and his team from his time in the States. But Idris is also looking forward to the forthcoming game at Wembley as he missed them the last time they were in London, however, it won’t be the first time he’s watched them.
“Well you know I did say I lived in Louisiana! In all seriousness I have watched them before at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome but that was a long time ago and I was much younger then. I’ve got a greater understanding of the team now!”
It’s been a few years since the Saints last won the Super Bowl (in 2009 in fact) and the last few years they’ve also been unable to get into the playoffs. Most people like to talk up the prospects of their team but Idris does think there is a good chance for the Saints this season.
“Well first and foremost I’m thinking of us getting to the playoffs and once you get there anything can, will and does happen. But we do have the ability to make the playoffs again this year. We’ve acquired some top level defensive players and a few star receivers and those coupled with the productivity of the legend who is Drew Brees can make a difference.”
The appeal the Saints has for Idris is obvious – it’s his home team, but also they always had a top level QB across the years that helps keep you going through the more challenging seasons. In Idris’ mind they’ve had heaps of all star level players – people like Reggie Bush, Archie Manning, Rickey Jackson, Marques Colston, Deuce McAllister, Pierre Thomas, Jimmy Graham, Frank Warren, Will Smith and Drew Brees to name, just a fair few!
But all eyes are turning to London and for those who are new to the game and certainly not seen the team from New Orleans before, who does Idris think will be the standouts and the ones to watch at Wembley?
“Well you know there’s a few that are worthy of consideration but if you’re pretty new to the side then I’d say my top picks to be looking out for are Safety Vonn Bell, Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., Line-backer A.J. Klein, Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, Running back Adrian Peterson, Wide receiver Willie Snead, Safety Kenny Vaccaro, Running back Mark Ingram, Wide receiver Michael Thomas, Defensive end Cam Jordan, Running back Alvin Kamara and Quarterback Drew Brees.”
Just a few then! But hey that’s the passion of a home-grown fan! There’s plenty of talent on the Saints side this season, plenty of players to watch out for, but you can also say that for the Miami Dolphins their opponents at Wembley. Does Idris think they can win this one?
“It’s going to be a tough game against the Dolphins, that’s for sure as they’ve got Jarvis Landry and Jay Ajayi who are predicted to contribute massively to the game. That said though with the Saints new backfield full of stars and a boosted wide receiver group, we should run up the score and the new stars on defence will look to help shut down the Dolphins passing game and force them to run the ball. So you know, not easy but certainly they’ll be in with a chance to win.”
Convinced yet? Well if you’re looking for a team to support then for Idris the Saints are definitely worth a look. But if you need further persuasion, hear from the man himself.
“Why support the Saints? Firstly there is only one word to describe the New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and that is phenomenal. That man alone is worth following the team for. He’s got a newer, more dominant Offensive line this year which means he should be able to throw for more yards and open up the running game. He is truly amazing and you would be watching, in my opinion, the greatest New Orleans Saints athlete that has ever been!”
If you’re in any doubt then watch along with Idris on October 1st. It’s sure going to be a great game.