By Mark Ambrogi
As USA Football Heads Up Football Manager and an ex-NFL player, Noblesville resident Michael Haynes is ready to share his knowledge of the game around the world.
The U.S. State Dept.’s Division of Sports Diplomacy contacted USA Football and asked the governing body if it would do a camp in Yekaterinburg, Russia as part of a diplomatic outreach.
The four-day football camp in March drew approximately 100 players, including three women players. Joining Haynes was Billy Elmore, USA Football Master Trainer and West Memphis (Ark.) High School coach.
“The youngest player was 10 and the oldest was in his late 30s,” Haynes said. “It was a combination of working with coaches and players.”
Haynes said like many countries, football is a club sport in Russia.
“It was a combination of our Heads Up football program and basic Xs and Os and how to teach,” he said.
Haynes, 35, was a defensive lineman for Penn State and a first-round NFL draft pick in 2003. He played three seasons with the Chicago Bears before injuries cut his career short. He later coached high school football in Texas.
“We actually taught them how to set up an offense and defense,” Haynes said. “It was how we would do a preseason. For them, it was an eye-opening experience because as far as coaching, a lot of the things they learned were off of YouTube. They were very receptive and very appreciative of all the things.”
Haynes said they had to converse through an interpreter.
“Thank you again to the State Department because Russian is not the easiest language to try to navigate,” Haynes said.
The last day of the camp they had a scrimmage in 20-degree weather.
“It was the coldest weather I ever coached in,” Haynes said.
In 2015, Haynes went on a trip to conduct clinics in South Korea. He has also been to Germany twice.