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Japanese student tackles footy at champion club

  • Monday, August 09 2004 @ 05:28 am ACST
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General News Hampden Football League side South Warrnambool (270km west of Melbourne, Australia) boasts an impressive list of youngsters that are currently playing at the highest level. Jonathan Brown, Brent Moloney, Matt Maguire and James Rahilly are all products of the club's successful junior program, which also boasts recent stars Wayne Schwass and Leon Cameron. Could the next South Warrnambool player to step up be an 18-year-old exchange student from Japan?

Upon arriving in Australia to undertake VCE studies as an international student at Warrnambool College, Takao Mizuno wished to continue playing rugby union as he had at his school in Japan. However, the absence of a rugby team in Warrnambool led to Mizuno trying his hand at Australian football - with considerable success.

Building upon a formidable tackling capability, Mizuno has cemented himself in the defensive line-up of South Warrnambool's under-18 side, though not without some effort. His kicking skills were basic at best upon arrival in Australia, and Mizuno "couldn't kick straight... or long" by his own account. Imagine the team's surprise then when the 18-year-old booted a goal from a free kick in one of his first matches.

Mizuno has found Australian football to be a fantastic way of making friends in a city where poor English skills can leave international students on the outer. His success at South Warrnambool has helped bridge the language gap with his classmates at Warrnambool College, and has made a positive impact on his impression of Australia.

Mizuno is set to return to Japan to study marketing next year, and is keen to continue his association with Australian football.

To read more about Takao Mizuro and his Australian football experience, take a look at the article in the Warrnambool Standard, by Vanessa Burrows.