THE odds might be stacked heavily against him, but that hasn’t deterred Rochedale’s Kieren Tumata from striving towards his dream of becoming the next big Aussie in America’s biggest football code.
The promising gridiron player is currently studying business at Butte College, California, where he hopes to score a scholarship to play on the college’s football side.
Tumata, who was also a talented rugby prop, was welcomed to the college by the school’s recruitment coach and is believed to be the first Australian in a dozen years to attend the college.
“I chose this college because I was offered a position in the football team and now, since the recent success of Aaron Rodgers (former student and Green Bay Superbowl-winning quarterback) positions at the school has become very competitive,” the 20-year-old said.
Tumata’s gridiron career has taken off since strapping on his helmet for the first time as a fresh-faced 15-year-old.
A member of Daisy Hill Wildcats’ 2010 Queensland Sunbowl championship, the 102kg, 178cm hardy runningback toured the States in 2008, participating in a rare gridiron camp, and went on to represent Australia against New Zealand in 2009.
Hungry for more success, Tumata vowed to one day return to the US and have a shot at becoming a professional gridiron player.
While it’s not a case of going for broke, Tumata has had to make some sacrifices.
Tumata, who is proud of his Maori heritage, has spent the last few years saving and studying hard so he could be accepted into an American college.
“I thought ‘why not give it a go?” the former Rochedale State School student explained.
“At some point I was going to study, buy a car and spend money, so why not spend it on an experience that will last a lifetime instead on material things?”
It’s refreshing to hear a young man speak like this, but there is another reason why Tumata is determined to make the most of his time overseas.
Tumata has had to deal with the pain of losing his cousin and close friend, who both took their own lives.
He uses the memory of them as a motivating force everyday to help achieve all he has set out to accomplish.
It’s a testament to his strong attitude and unwavering resilience, which is also evident on the field.
While adamant his pursuit for gridiron glory would not digress from his study, Tumata hopes his time at Butte College is not ephemeral as he attempts to score a gridiron scholarship later this year.
“I would like to graduate in some field of business for a start, but any sporting success that comes from being at college or in America is a bonus,” he said.
“My training over the last month has been intense.
“Team practice hasn’t started yet but I train solo and that allows me to push past thresholds and to train at 110 per cent.”
When asked about his hopes of making it into the NFL, Tumata was optimistic.
“It is all a possibility, nothing is beyond reach.”