AFL launches US hunt for potential stars - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL launches US hunt for potential stars

By Peter Mitchell 09/05/2010 02:28:14 PM Comments (0)

The AFL and a top Australian sports agent have embarked on an ambitious plan to find young American athletes capable of playing in the AFL.

The first of a series of trials in the US will be held in Dallas in August, with organisers hoping 5,000 Americans will show up for a shot at an AFL career.

The majority of the 300,000 young athletes playing basketball, American football and other sports at the top collegiate level fail to make it into the millionaire professional leagues of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL) and it is this large pool of leftover athletes the AFL and sports agent Miro Gladovic will tap into.

There are also thousands of American high school athletes who do not go to college.

"There's guys like (NBA star) LeBron James out there, but they don't make it to the professional ranks for whatever reason," Gladovic, a Melbourne-born agent who had a lucrative career representing Australian soccer players in Europe, told AAP at a launch party held in Los Angeles on Saturday.

"I want to find these guys, put my agent's cap on and bring them out to Australia."

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou has backed the project, telling Gladovic on a promotional video: "I want you to bring me an American footy star".

Gladovic plans to turn the American AFL star search into a reality TV show titled American Footy Star.

After Dallas, trials are planned in New York and Los Angeles.

The player selected at the Dallas trial will win a trip to Australia where he will be mentored by active and retired AFL stars including Jason McCartney, Robert "Dipper" DiPierdomenico, Jimmy Bartel and Geelong assistant coach Brenton Sanderson.

The player will also be invited to the 2010 AFL Rookie Draft Camp.

The US project comes as AFL clubs expand their player base by going after the top players in rival codes, with rugby league star Karmichael Hunt signing a lucrative contract with the new Gold Coast AFL franchise.

Gladovic says the AFL's average salary of $A250,000, while nowhere near the $US100 million contracts offered to top NBA stars, will be attractive to young American athletes who do not make it into America's big leagues.

He concedes it will take time for US athletes to build up the skill level to play top level AFL, but says recruiting American talent is a great way of promoting the sport in the huge US sports market.

"It's not like they are going to walk into the AFL," Gladovic said.

"It will take a lot of hard work, but what better way to raise the AFL's profile than to have an American drafted into the AFL.

"It will create curiosity in the US and create an American fanbase."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2020 AAP

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