Zach Salmi will follow the trail blazed by former Australian footballers and travel to the United States to play college football.
Salmi will try his luck as a punter, after being scouted to a Division one National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school.
The 20-year-old will arrive tomorrow morning at Missouri, where he will play for Central Methodist University (CMU).
“It is a pretty small school. It is in a town called Fayette, which is smaller than Stawell,” Salmi said.
Salmi has grown up playing Australian Rules his whole life, enjoying a successful career so far including playing in Swifts’ 2014 senior premiership victory.
His thumping right boot drew the attention of scouts when playing football in Melbourne last year.
“I was playing for the Monash Blues and I am not too sure how, but the college found out about me and at the end of the season I got a letter asking me to do a punting tryout,” he said.
It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so there was no point in me not taking it.- Zach Salmi
“Sav Rocca and a few others that have played over in America were there at the tryout which went really well.
“From there I had an interview with the college and I was accepted into their football program.”
Salmi will partake in a football camp two days after he arrives in Missouri, with no American football experience to count on.
“I have put on the pads once before but I haven’t played a single game,” he said.
“It is a bit of a leap of faith for them to put their faith in me.
“I’m really nervous about not disappointing them but hopefully I’ll go alright.
“I’m really looking forward to getting a go at punting and learning the ropes.”
Salmi said he will be just as focused on his studies as his football endeavours at his new college.
“I will be studying pre-athletic training so I am really excited to be able to do that,” he said.
“I have always been interested in sport so i am really excited to get over there and do my degree and play football at the same time, it will be good fun.”
With more and more Australians realising their dreams of playing professional sport in America, Salmi said he hopes he can make the most of his chances.
“It is obviously the dream (to play professional football),” he said.
“It would be great fun to be able to do it but I really care about getting my degree and being able to do that really interests me.”
Despite moving so far away from home and his family, Salmi said he is excited for what lies ahead.
“Everyone is a bit sad but they are really proud of me and keen to see me get over there and do my own thing.
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so there was no point in me not taking it.
“I thought I may as well take the leap of faith.
“I’m just really looking forward to the process and I’m keen to get over there and see what it is like.
“I can’t wait.”
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