KARRINYUP teenager Luke Davies has just landed a position on the Australian Junior Under-19s Gridiron team and is keen to dive head first into an exciting season.
The Hale School student said as soon as he tried the sport he was hooked and was “thrilled” to represent Australia.
“My cousin introduced me to it because he plays in the senior team at the club I play for now, Perth Blitz,” he said.
While the sport is not quite as popular as AFL or either rugby code, Davies says gridiron’s popularity in Australia is growing.
“I’m really the only one who does it in my school,” he said.
“When I went over to a Gridiron camp in February there were at least 70 people there so it’s not as big as footy or soccer but it’s definitely growing.”
A heavy helmet and padding protects against serious injuries but Davies said he had seen broken collarbones and concussions.
“It is pretty aggressive and once you’re out there people just put their lives on the line,” he said.
“The helmet can be a deadly weapon you can’t use it to charge people, they try and make it as safe as possible.
“The helmet can become more of a weapon than a piece of protection sometimes.”
Playing the in wide receiver position, Davies said the sport was gruelling and required peak fitness.
“Wide receivers line up on either side of the field and catch balls from the quarterback,” he said.
“There is a lot of core fitness and endurance involved; it’s not like football where you need to be able to run for kilometres, its like sprinting on and off for a good three or four minutes.”
In his final year of high school, Luke (17) has his sights set on gaining a gridiron scholarship at an American college.
Davies will play against New Zealand in Queensland before heading to the Under-19 World Junior Gridiron Championships in China in July.