While the majority of Australians will be fast asleep at 1am on Sunday morning, Albion Park’s Jacob Sheil will be preparing to embark on the biggest moment of his young career.
Sheil will take to the field for Australia in their opening match of the Under 19 American Football World Junior Championships in Mexico.
Australia’s opponent? The United States.
The match will likely prove a tough task for the offensive lineman and his Australian teammates, but they will all possess some extra motivation heading into the game.
The lure of a college football scholarship.
With college scouts attending the game to seek out future American stars, the Australians know an impressive showing could catch the eye of a scout and help kickstart their dream of playing in the States.
“It will be an extremely tough task,” Sheil’s uncle Glenn Fenwick, who represented Australia in 1999, said. “But it will be good to go up against these kids who have played the game all their lives.
“There will be a few college scouts there, they’ll be keeping a close eye on the American games, looking at the other side of field. So it will be a good opportunity for a lot of the kids on the Australian team.
“The plan for Jacob is to attend a US college. He’s had a couple of conversations with some different coaches while he’s been over there and this trip will be a good opportunity to speak to some more.”
At 18 years old, Sheil is currently in the midst of his HSC, with the goal to continue his American football career in the US college system, hopefully putting him on the pathway to the NFL.
A pathway to the NFL may seem a distant possibility, but recent history suggests it is a goal that is not unattainable.
Australia’s most recent NFL draft selection, former South Sydney Rabbitohs junior Jordan Mailata, drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in April, presented the Australian players with their jerseys prior to their departure for North America earlier this month.
It was a meeting that reinforced Sheil’s belief that it is possible to pursue the sport in America, according to Fenwick.
“You should’ve seen all the kids faces when he walked in,” Fenwick said. “They were like little kids on Christmas morning, they were so amazed having him there. He was really humble, he introduced himself to every player on the team.
“For Jacob it was inspirational, to meet him and have a quick five-minute chat with him and see how his journey’s been going, it showed Jacob there is that reality and it’s possible to do it.”