Skip to content

City footballer has line of scrimmage as wide as Europe

Troy Shantz Jason Robert South has made a career out of playing and teaching football, but not in North America. The former St.
Playing football is taking Jason South far and wide. Photo Courtesy: Jeff McCoy / Kaoss Studios

Troy Shantz

Jason Robert South has made a career out of playing and teaching football, but not in North America.

The former St. Clair Secondary student has taken his skills across the pond, where the European market is ripe for Westerners proficient in America's favourite game, he said.

“It’s kind of like (being) a unicorn in Europe,” said South, 28. “North America is the top place in the world for football. It makes you very valuable.”

American-style football is growing in popularity on the European continent, with a number of leagues and teams like the Ostrava Steelers, the Geneva Seahawks and the Budapest Cowboys.

Since 2015, the 6-foot 5-inch, tight end and defensive end has played and coached in Austria, Iceland, Serbia, Germany and the Philippines.

South was introduced to football through the Sarnia Minor Athletic Association in 2001. He played in high school and drew the interest of Western University’s football recruiters in his final year.

But South opted to study fitness and health at Fanshawe College and took the field with the London Beefeaters of the Canadian Junior Football League. He also had stints with the University of Guelph Gryphons, and was top 10 in the CJFL after one season with the Twin Cities Predators.

But South said he’s also a travel junkie. So he registered with a website called Europlayers, which connects U.S. and Canada-based football players with European clubs. The offers began rolling in.

“Since football within Europe is still growing… they want North Americans to come over there to teach, to play, to promote,” he said.

South takes the field with the division three Leipzig Lions in 2017.Submitted Photo

In 2015 he took a playing and coaching assignment with the division three Gmunden Rams in Austria. Fan attendance waned, he said, but the local players relished playing with a Canadian, and they demonstrated a deep passion for the game.

He coached at a training camp in Iceland, and faced off against Serbia’s national team in Belgrade in 2017. Assignments can vary between single games, a week or an entire season, he said.

Later this month South is heading back to Germany to suit up with the Marburg Mercenaries in the 16-team German Football League - the top league in Europe, he said.

He’ll also study business at Philipps-University Marburg, and is coaching at three different training camps this summer.

South declined to say what a freelance European football player earns, but teams cover expenses, including accommodation and flights, and the travel opportunities make it more than worthwhile, he said.

He also has several sponsors, including Sarnia-based De Shane Chiropractic.

“For me it’s just about the experiences. In life, you can make money any time, but the experience for something like this is limited,” said South.

“It’s really cool to tell people I’ve done this.”

Join the Community: Receive Our Daily News Email for Free