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IFAF Athlete's Commission four players elected

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THURSDAY, AUGUST 19, 2010 - OTTAWA, ONTARIO - During the fifth IFAF Flag Football World Championship, players nominated Rosa Rivera from Mexico, Shana Sprung from Israel, Sebastian Schumacher from Germany and Junyoung Chang from Korea to represent flag football on the International Federation of American Football Athlete's Commission.

An important element of the IFAF objective to secure International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognition includes establishing an IFAF Athletes Commission.

The four athletes, who participated in the 2010 IFAF Flag Football World Championship, were elected by their fellow athletes - without the influence of coaches or administrators - to serve on the Athletes Commission. Two athletes per IFAF tournament will be added to the commission until a total of 10 are reached in 2011. Two athletes were previously elected at the 2009 IFAF Junior World Championship, one from USA and one from Sweden, while at the IFAF Women's World Championship a player from Canada and Finland were elected.

In 2011, two of the final 10 will then be voted onto the IFAF Executive Committee to play an active part in shaping the future of IFAF and the international game of American Football. One will be male and one will be female. They will have a say in establishing rules and regulations, offer a player's perspective to the Executive Committee and will possess voting powers from 2011 onwards.

Mexico City native Rosa Rivera, who is playing in her twelfth year of football and seventh on the national team, is a passionate American football player who will be graduating from ITESM in Mexico City with a major in Communications.

She became involved with football because of her father who was her coach at the age of 11 when she starting playing tackle football. With her hard work and dedication, she has seen much success in her football career including leading her flag football team to a 2008 IFAF Flag Football World Championship gold medal. At the tournament in 2008, Rivera was also named MVP of the All-Tournament team.

Being elected into the Athlete's Commission is something that Rivera will not take lightly and is thrilled with the idea of helping the sport continue to grow and prosper.

"The Athletes Commission is an important mission to make the organization better and bigger," said Rivera. "I want to help support the athletes and recognize their effort in every tournament."

In Mexico, Rivera states that their biggest challenge in the development of the sport is the financial support in the country and the lack of media interest and hopes that IFAF can help Mexico and other countries with similar problems.

"I hope to help the organization as a whole," she added. "I want to introduce the sport in places that already have flag football, but are not part of the IFAF to continue the growth of American football."

Sebastian Schumacher from Germany started playing football at the age of 20 after being exposed to the sport while watching NFL Europe games and has been hooked ever since. Not being able to play tackle football, Schumacher founded a German flag football team in 2000 and started playing.

The Kelkheim Lizzards Flag Football team is still in existence today and Schumacher has led the team to four German Flag Football Bowl titles. He has also played for the German national flag football team, competing in the past three IFAF Flag Football World Championships in Korea, Quebec and Ottawa. He also competed in the 2007 and 2009 European Flag Football Championships in Italy and Northern Ireland.

Schumacher is looking forward to representing all of the athletes participating in the sport he loves and hopes he will be able to help spread the exposure and publicity of the sport.

"The Athlete's Commission is a great thing and the right way to show the officials the player's point of view," said Schumacher. "I am honored to be able to represent the athletes."

Shana Sprung from Jerusalem helped develop a women's league in Israel and has been playing football for ten years. Sprung has also been on the national team for seven years and is a true leader for the sport of American football in her native country.

She is the captain of her flag football team and has led them to championship titles for the past nine years. The Israeli women are also reigning bronze-medal holders of the 2009 European Championship after winning a thrilling overtime game and have consistently placed well at international competitions all over the world.

In 2008, the Israel Women's national team won the Flag Oceane tournament in France for their second title having won their first one in 2005, shocking the sport as it was the first time any Israeli team had won an international American football tournament.

Sprung is excited to join the Athletes Commission to meet other people who love the game and is also is eager to help expand and improve the sport.

"Many countries, including Israel, have difficulties getting equipment, officials and coaches to their leagues," said Sprung. "I want to help make it easier for countries to get the things they need and for coaching to be spread globally."

Korea native Junyoung Chang has had a relatively short football career but his passion for the sport is limitless and he has many ideas to help expand the sport of American football. Chang started playing three years ago when he joined his high school flag football club team.

He quickly became an asset to his team, being named captain, and fell in love with the sport. His team - the Hwarangs - was appointed as the national representatives for the 2010 IFAF Flag Football World Championship after taking first place at the National High School Flag Football Tournament in Seoul, Korea in 2009.

Chang was born in Urbana Champaign, Illinois and lived in the United States until the age of seven and hopes that his bilingual abilities will help expand the sport of American football.

"Being part of the IFAF Athlete's Commission is a challenge I look forward to," said Chang. "I hope to be able to utilize my advantage of being accustomed to a multicultural atmosphere and hope that being able to speak both English and Korean fluently will facilitate the representation of our nation in the Commission."

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