An EDINBURGH-based teenager is preparing to head to the other side of the world later this week to test himself against the best Australian Rules Football players after he was selected to attend a high performance training camp.
Tom Exton, who is currently in his last week in S6 at Stewart’s Melville College, will spend time in Melbourne and Sydney with a World XVIII team which will be coached by former AFL stars.
The team is going to play in the NAB-AFL under-16 Championships which involves Australia’s state teams in which all of the country’s top young players play in.
And with scouts from the AFL watching on for talent for the future from Australia and overseas it is a big chance for Exton to impress.
“It is a great opportunity and one I want to make the most of,” he said.
Originally from Darwin in Australia, Exton’s family moved to Geneva, Switzerland, in 2002 after spells around their home country and in Singapore.
Since 2005 they have lived in the Capital, and, amazingly, Exton picked up Australian Rules Football after he moved here.
He explained: “I played basketball throughout the time I lived in Australia and had no real match experience when it came to Aussie Rules. Joining the Edinburgh Bloods really helped me progress my Aussie Rules and the skills used are quite different to most sports. Handballing, kicking and marking are all used to create a fast flowing and entertaining sport.”
Currently in Scotland there are three Australian Rules teams based in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Throughout the year, each team plays each other three times and there is then a Grand Final. The Haggis Cup tournament is a big part of the calendar as well.
Scotland also participates in international matches against the likes of Croatia, England and Wales, and Exton and his Scottish team-mates recently played Ireland in Galway. He added: “At the start of this year I travelled to London for a week for a match with a European team to play against an Australian under-18 team.
“This trip allowed me to be picked for the World team and the up-coming camp.” After the summer, Exton hopes to take a gap year to travel to the Philippines, Utah and India before heading to Strathclyde University to study in 2012 – but right now his mind is fully focused on his Australian adventure.