School of hard knocks

Ned Balme in the United States and a long way from his Mandurah home.
Ned Balme in the United States and a long way from his Mandurah home.

Balme (21) received an American football scholarship at the University of Central Oklahoma and has become the team’s starting punter.

He said his background in Australian Rules football has been beneficial.

‘Most Australians playing over here are punters,’ he said.

‘I kick the ball to the desired spot on the ground to get the best field position possible for our defence. I attribute most of what I do to Aussie Rules.’

Balme said he relished the opportunity to showcase his talents in front of about 10,000 spectators per match and declared his love for the sport.

‘I initially got into it because I loved the fact that there was physical contact on every single play,’ he said.

‘People back home mention the pads being weak but if you are getting rocked on every play it adds up.’

The 188cm player said he was unlikely to follow the footsteps of Australians Saverio Rocca and Ben Graham into the professional world of the National Football League (NFL).

‘At this stage, I don’t have NFL ambitions,’ he said.

‘I wouldn’t mind attending an NFL training camp in the future. I am also doing a degree in broadcasting to complement my nearly completed journalism degree.

‘I was writing on the NFL on a weekly basis back in Australia. There were many sleepless nights because the matches would start in the early hours.’