By Eleni Megoran
Rob William McDowell is not your ordinary American Football running back. He is the first Irish player to be shortlisted to play American Football in the top under-19 competition for the World team playing against Team USA in Austin, Texas next year. Rob sees it as a “once in a lifetime experience.”
Rob is a top sports man in Trinity College with an extensive sports background in parkour and has played rugby since the age of 11. He started playing American Football only a year ago when a friend suggested that he try the sport out because he would not get into trouble for jumping over people, unlike in rugby. Rob says that playing the sport is the “best of both world.” He was extremely flattered to be the only Irish American Football player to be nominated for the World Team by the Irish Federation for American Football.
The competition on Wednesday, 2 February, 2011, which will be played in Westlake High School’s Ebbie Neptune Field at Chaparral Stadium, is a significant step up for the young player’s sporting prospects. Rob humorously stated that it is “very very scary, it really is, I have never played in front of more then 20 people, including the players, it’s a bit of a big step up.” The game will be be played in front of 50,000 fans with more people watching the match on ESPN. The competition was established last year and was played in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where the World team only lost the game 17-0. The World team held the USA team not allowing them a touchdown until the final play of the first half.
The World team will be playing the best high school players from all over America which will field a 45 player roster. Most countries submit a few players every year to try to play for the World team which is usually made up of international players spanning four continents.
However in reality the World team is usually made up of a high percentage of Canadians, with last years team consisting of 39 Canadians out of the 45 players. There was no one last year from Britain or Ireland that made the team. There was over 200 people that were on the provisional list for the World team and Rob has been short listed to the 60 potential players.
He modestly states “I can’t catch very well so the quarterback just gives it to me and I run.” The video that was submitted by his coach for the selection for the World team shows the powerful speed that Rob has.
For someone that took up American Football just for a laugh he has been not only thrust to the front of the DU American Football (DUAF) team but he will also be playing against top players in America.
The newly DUCAC affiliated DUAF club is supporting Rob not only in his training but also to help him raise the money to pay for his registration fee of 500 euros.
The team will organising a fundraiser a “send Rob to Texas night out.” Stephen Fallon, President DUAF club has said that they are all “very pleased for Rob and we wish him the best of luck.”
Rob has not only been committed to his training with Trinity but also with keeping up with the online training log for the International Federation for American Football which keeps up to date with his progress. He has an intensive training regime with task that he has to complete every week, sending video evidence of his progress to the Federation.
Many of his team mates are going to go over to Austin, Texas to support Rob. Even though Rob does not “trust them to keep me in check before the game” he has Trinity Coach, Darrin O’Toole to guide him.
A week of intense training awaits Rob before the competition with world renowned head coach of running backs, Hiroki Uno, who has coached in the Ivy Samurai Bowl and three college all-star games. Even with pads and helmets, he has fractured his elbow and has had concussions in the past. He says thats why he likes being the running back you get a “touch down and you don’t usually get hurt.”
The definition of an all rounder would probably be Rob. Not only is he a six-foot sports man but also a songwriter and musician who plays piano, guitar and drums. The one thing he will definitely be packing in his suitcase he says will be his guitar. He has also applied for Trinity’s Scholarships, with great prospects of being granted the award.
O’Toole commented on the young star’s potential as “looking very good for Rob to be picked for the 45 man roster.” With last year’s roster being made up of 39 Canadians, “for Rob to get this fair is very exciting.” The coach praised Rob for being the “most talented player to come out of Ireland.” He is extremely athletic and has only been playing for two sessions, O’Toole commented that “he has adapted well to the sport and theres a lot opportunities if he makes the roster.”
Making the team is, as O’Toole said, the “equivalent of making the Olympics” for American Football.
Rob has also been highly recommended by Sky Sports NFL Analyses and SMU coach, Jeff Reinebold, who was very impressed with Rob’s speed and has recommended him to be picked for the World game.
O’Toole stated that he was lucky to be selected as part of the coaching staff for the World team.
He said that if Rob is selected its a “big opportunity for him to make a good impression and it also puts Trinity and Ireland on the American Football map.” The announcement of the 45-roster for the World team will be coming out in the next few weeks.