Since 2008, Global Football has organized the Global Ambassadors Bowl, which provides opportunity of a lifetime for deserving student-athletes to travel internationally, while playing the sport they love while serving as ambassadors for their school, state, nation and themselves.
A squad of American football high school senior standouts selected as much for their conduct off the field as their performances on the gridiron makes up the traveling squad known as Team Stars & Stripes.
The Global Ambassadors Bowl traces its origins back to Japan in 2008 and has taken high-school aged travelers and mentoring coaches to Europe and Asia to expand their appreciation of the world, make new friends and play football. In 2017, China was introduced to the series. Formerly known as the Global Bowl, the series has graced Japan (2008 and 2009), France / Belgium (2010), Germany (2011), Italy (2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018), Spain (2014) and Czech Republic / Germany (2016), with Team Stars & Stripes boasting an 9-2 record.
Long-time Episcopal Academy (Philadelphia PA) head coach Bill Gallagher coached with Team Stars & Stripes for the past six journeys overseas, assisted by coaches focused on broadening the horizons of their young players, including John Storey of Villa Angela St Joseph (Cleveland, OH), who has coached at every Global Ambassadors Bowl.
A brief history of the Global Ambassadors Bowl
The story began in 2008 when respected Arizona high school coach Jeff Scurran took a squad of 40 players from 27 high schools from across 12 states to Tokyo to face the Japanese Under 19 national team. The Americans were unable to recover from conceding 17 unanswered first half points and despite outscoring Japan after the break went down to a 24-14 defeat at a Kawasaki Stadium overflowing with 4,800 enthusiastic football fans.
But the visit to Japan was about far more than just football. The players all lived with Japanese families for the duration of their stay and spent each day learning about the nation’s culture through a series of field trips, visits to historical sites and interaction with their hosts.
In 2009, a 45-man roster drawn from 12 states first practiced and roomed at U.S. military Yokota Air Base in the shadow of Mount Fuji before relocating to Kawasaki to live with host families and take in the sights of Japan’s spectacular capital city Tokyo.
A Japan team preparing for the IFAF Junior World Championship again proved formidable opposition. Down 17-6 at halftime, having scored on the opening drive, Team Stars & Stripes made costly errors turning the ball over and Japan took full advantage. The hosts scored two unanswered touchdowns to lead 31-6 going into the fourth quarter before the Americans mounted a late comeback. The visitors pulled within 10 points, but Japan countered to secure a 38-21 victory.
Team Stars & Stripes overwhelmed a Brussels All-Stars team in 2010, as Europe became the focus for the Global Bowl, the Americans running out 83-0 winners in Amiens near Paris. The weeklong tour included a sobering visit to the site of the Normandy beach landings and an opportunity to witness the stunning beauty of Paris.
In 2011, Team Stars & Stripes shut out the Munich Cowboys Juniors to record a 34-0 victory in the Global Germany Bowl in Bavaria. The group of 30 high school seniors from seven states led 28-0 at halftime and then added six second half points.
The game capped a week of practices and cultural sightseeing in Rothenburg, Munich and the Bavarian Region. They visited the Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a well-preserved medieval old town; took a Nightwatchman Tour in Rothenburg; visited Linderhof and Neuschwanstein Castles; and traveled to Munich via the Romantic Road.
In 2012, represented by players from 20 U.S. high schools from six states, Team Stars & Stripes faced the Italian Under-19 national team in a Global Bowl Italy game that featured in an hour-long CBS Sports Network broadcast. As the historic Italian capital city of Rome marked its 2,765th birthday, Team Stars & Stripes celebrated with a 50-0 victory.
Viewers to the TV documentary also followed the activities of the traveling group away from the football field, as they enjoyed the local culture, and visited the picturesque spa town of Montecantini Terme, where the team practiced They also enjoyed Florence, set in the rolling hills of Tuscany, Rome via the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, Ancient Rome and the Coliseum and finally The Vatican.
In 2013, Team Stars & Stripes, made up of 39 student athletes from 10 different high schools across six states, fired 67 points against the Italian Under-19 National Team to win the Global Bowl Torino. Kicker Anthony Bagliano, who was born with a condition known as Holt-Oram syndrome and despite having virtually no arms and enduring multiple heart conditions, kicked a 17-yard field goal for Team Stars & Stripes and also kicked off for Italy to start the game.
While in Rome and Florence, the traveling group visited the Florence Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, Santa Croce, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.
In 2014, the Team Stars & Stripes high school select team traveled to Barcelona, Spain, and beat a Cataluña representative team 47-6 in front of 1,100 fans. After representing the United States on the football field, David Odgen and John Reynolds, who both played on the offensive line, left to serve their country in the military. After graduation, Ogden joined the U.S. Naval Academy, while Reynolds was bound for West Point.
In 2015, Team Stars & Stripes defeated Lazio Marines 75-7 to win Global Bowl Italy. The overseas visit included opportunities to experience a new culture and visit some of the world’s most iconic tourist attractions. The group explored ancient Rome, the Coliseum, Florence, Tuscany, Siena, the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi and Vatican City.
2016 saw a return to Germany to face the Hanau High School All-Stars, a team of teenage student athletes from a number of area German schools, bolstered by a strong contingent from Belgium and a few American boys for the DoD schools. Team Stars & Stripes ran out 36-0 winners.
The traveling group first visited the Czech Republic, taking in Prague, touring the Old Town, including the Old Town Square, the 18th century Church of St Nicholas, the beautiful Goltz-Kinsky Palace, and the medieval Charles Bridge. They visited the Terezin concentration camp, the Museum of Communism, a Nuclear Bunker and Krizik’s Fountain before heading to Germany to explore medieval Rothenberg.
In 2017, China became the 28th country to welcome Global Football travelers when hosting the ninth Global Ambassadors Bowl between April 1 and 9. Team Stars & Stripes experienced spectacular cultural sites including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Beijing Olympics Complex, and a Shanghai River tour.
Under head coach Chris Adamson, the visiting players and coaches held a youth clinic before winning 56-0 against the Chinese American Football Academy in front of a crowd of 800 spectators at the Shanghai Lixin University of Commerce Stadium on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon in Shanghai.
In 2018, Team Stars & Stripes won the eleventh annual Global Ambassadors Bowl, posting a 69-0 win over the FIDAF Regional U19s in Cave near Rome, Italy.
The Italian team, drawn from local clubs Marines Lazio, Roma Grizzlies, Gladiatori Roma, Minatori Cave, Bufali Latina and Legio XIII Ostia, and coached by Bart Iaccarino and his Lazio Ducks staff, trailed 55-0 at halftime, but the annual game is about much more than the final score. As the FIDAF USA Experience Director Fabrizio Cuppelini commented following the day of football action: “Our boys love this chance to test their skills, to learn from Americans who have so much more experience, and to meet young men who play with the passion we are working to instill in our young athletes.”