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Inverness athlete Daniel Kane prepares to start Canadian football career

By Will Clark

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After playing for one of the biggest American football clubs in Germany, Daniel Kane tells Will Clark about his next adventure in Canadian football as his career reaches new heights.

Daniel Kane
Daniel Kane

DANIEL Kane has already played for one of the biggest American football clubs in Europe, now he is preparing to cross the Atlantic to test himself in North America.

The former Millburn Academy pupil has signed for Canadian football team Okanagan Sun after spending a season with New Yorker Lions in the German Football League.

The 21-year-old has had a whirlwind start to his career, which all started with the Highland Wildcats at Bught Park in Inverness.

Now the sports science student, studying at the University of Stirling, is looking forward to a new challenge by taking up a new sport. He says he is looking forward to testing himself at a higher level when he starts his Canadian football career in the Spring.

Comparing American football to Canadian football, the 6ft 6in offensive lineman said: “For my individual position, there is very little change from American football. But any other position, it is a completely different sport.

“I received a call from the Sun after the German season ended. There was interest before that, but nothing set in stone.

“But it seemed the natural progression to make. It is a better level of football and it creates better opportunities in the sport for me longer term to make the move.”

Daniel Kane
Daniel Kane

Kane sealed a dream move to the German Football League with New Yorker Lions in Braunschweig last year. The club are one of the most successful in Europe, having won 12 German championships and six European titles.

The club plays at the 24,000 seater Eintracht Stadion, three times the size of the Caledonian Stadium.

Kane says American football is huge in Germany and the experience of playing in a professional league, as well as living in a foreign country, is something he is grateful he got the chance to do.

“It was by far the best experience of my life,” Kane said.

“When you play in a real stadium and in front of fans, it is truly remarkable to experience from just playing on a pitch in a Sunday league.

“The stadium is bigger than the Caledonian Stadium, we were averaging 6000 fans a game and we had 20,000 people watch via live stream.

"The Germans are lively people in the stadium and have noise-makers. Even though crowds averaged 6000, it sounded like 20,000.

“The season itself was up and down and it was a massive learning curve for me.

“Towards the end of the season I got injured and did require surgery. It was a great time overall, but it was hectic.

“But nothing is straight forward when you are learning.”

Daniel Kane
Daniel Kane

Speaking about living in Germany, he said: “The people were lovely and Braunschweig is great, it is a city of 400,000 people.

“There is no team in Europe who look after you more than New Yorker Lions.

“German is a hard language to learn, but it is amazing how most European countries can speak English. German is so difficult when you are an outsider. The hard parts were going shopping and buying the wrong things to start with, not realising what you are doing.

“The portion sizes are also different and there was a lot to get used to. But it is a really great country to live in.”

Now Kane is preparing to move to Canada to play for the Okanagan Sun in Kelowna, British Columbia.

They play in the Canadian Junior Football League, which is one division below the top level Canadian Football League.

Okanagan are the reigning Canadian Bowl champions after defeating Regina Thunder in the final in November.

Kane knows he is going to a club which has high expectations of defending their title.

But he is relishing being part of an ambitious team and is also looking to achieve major success.

“The team I have picked to go to have fantastic coaches and they are the reigning champions. There are two things I look for when I am deciding which club to go to.

“First is the coaching and the second is the investment which is put into the team.

“I look at the investment clubs put into things like physio care and the training facilities and how well do they look after me as a player.

“I want the chance to be the best player I can be, and this team gives me that opportunity. Last year, Okanagan Sun didn’t lose the game on their way to winning the Canadian Bowl.

“But they lost a lot of players from last year so they are bringing in new players this year. I think we can help them win again this year.”

Daniel Kane (Centre)
Daniel Kane (Centre)

Kane first got involved in American football while at Millburn Academy when he played in the Highland Academy Community League which was organised by Inverness club Highland Wildcats.

He continued his American football career at the University of Stirling as well as playing for Great Britain at junior level.

He says he owes his professional career to making the first step with the Highland Wildcats.

“When I was 13, and already 6ft 3, a guy called Chris Shaw grabbed me when they ran the Highland Academy Community League at Highland Wildcats,” recalls Kane.

“I fell in love with the sport and decided that is what I wanted to do.

“I accidentally watched an NFL match involving the Pittsburgh Steelers and fell in love with the game.

“But the Highland Wildcats cemented my career in the sport, they created my passion for the game and put a great sense of culture and love in me.

“I consider the Wildcats my home, and if the club wasn’t age grouped I would have played there for the rest of my days.”

Daniel Kane
Daniel Kane

Kane says any Scottish athletes who have the chance of playing professional sport abroad should take the chance.

He says he has become a better athlete and person because of it.

“In Scotland, the level in our country is not as good as in other countries and there isn’t an opportunity to get paid,” he said.

“But some of the best players in American football playing in Europe are British athletes.

“I advise anyone who gets the chance to play for a professional team abroad to do the same thing as I did.

“It is the best experience you will get.”

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