Friday, November 28, 2014

"Hang Loose, Mates": Junior Tagaloa Tells Leafa Gridiron To Ease Up

"Hang Loose, Mates": Junior Tagaloa Tells Leafa Gridiron To Ease Up

By Graeme Wong
Spirit News
August 23, 2072

Hours before the Leafa Spirit Gridiron team flew out of Canberra Airport via charter and custom-made livery for their first-ever flight to America to head to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, head coach Dan Harding delivered an impassioned speech to his players at Kaguya Houraisan Centre. His voice was slightly shaking, but it was a mix of excitement and nervousness.

"Guys, we are about to head into the great unknown," said Coach Harding. "You are about to face the University of Alabama in your first-ever game as an NCAA team. Never again will you do something more meaningful in your young lives. Treasure it, enjoy it, and play the game the way I know you are capable of playing.

"Leave everything out on the field, and trust in each other. Trust in the brother next to you, that he will do his best like you will this Saturday there, but Sunday here. We're like the NFL in a way. Our road matches are held on a Sunday here in Australia. You're about to play like professionals against future professionals. No one in that crowd will give you a chance.

"I believe in you. Believe in each other. And if you're good enough, everyone in the world will realize that Australia can be the next great country to play American football. Let's shock the world together."

"Oh yeah, I told everyone, hang loose, mates, we got our first assignment and it's a big one," said freshman right guard Junior Tagaloa on board the Air Force One-sized charter plane, named Air Leafa One, which has all the amenities of Houraisan Centre but plane sized, including a film room. "We got no pressure, no pressure. No one's gonna think we're gonna have a chance.

"I think what they're gonna do...they're gonna chant, 'You Came A Long Way...Just To Lose" and rubbish like that. That's good for us because that's gonna allow us to play our game and impress a lot of people. Hope everyone back home stays up to watch this."

Tagaloa doesn't regret declining the offer to play for Hawai'i. In fact, he was relieved that he rejected the scholarship to play one step below.

"Are you kidding me?" he said. "Playing for an FCS school that can't hack it at our level? And I don't have to travel too much if I play here at Leafa. Lot closer to home. Plus, I like this campus. I never saw a green-colored pyramid in my life, but it looks amazing. Glad we have it. I prefer it to the pink-colored one they have in Canada (at Mitakihara University).

"The best decision I made was to play for Australia's Team because I'm proud to be Australian. We can make gridiron the next big sport to hit our land. And we're getting real good at this sport. I see young people throwing a football instead of punching it around like in AFL.

"The energy on campus is really good too. We're bringing our own marching band. People who haven't heard of the West Coast Eagles song will get to hear our version of it when we score a touchdown. And I know there's a number of people in Alabama who follow AFL, too, so they get to see our athletic ability.

"We're gonna have an exciting game. Alabama may never live this one down. They've lost to Mitakihara many times before, but this is going to be even more historic. We're excited. We can't wait to land in America."

The plane will layover at Los Angeles International Airport to refuel before flying to Tuscaloosa Regional Airport. Tickets for the historic match between Leafa and Alabama are sold out, and a traveling contingent of Leafa boosters will be on hand to support the Spirit on game day.The match will be broadcast on the university radio station 5AO, which broadcasts Spirit Athletics year-round.