In the Abu Dhabi Wildcat’s 30-0 win over the Al Ain Desert Foxes, one player stood out more than most. Andrew ‘The Kid’ Williams ran in a pair of touchdowns as well as three two-point conversions.
And he might be taking his talents to the big time.
The American will return to his home state of Virginia this summer to study Business Management at Virginia Tech University, who boast one of the best college teams in the country in a state where American football is king.
Without a football scholarship, Williams will have to try out as a walk-on where he will do his best to prove to the coaches in Virginia that he is worthy of a spot on the team.
“I’ll go out there and start school and I think walk-on trials are in September or April the next year so I need to go out, prove that I can run with those guys and potentially get a scholarship,” the 18-year-old told Sport360°.
“I think with enough hard work I can get in. One of the things of just getting on the team is stamina, they test who can run with other guys. I think skill-wise I can make it, but I just need to get my body ready for it because they’ll work me hard. But if it’s in April next year then I have plenty of time to build up the weights and everything. I think I have a shot.”
Williams arrived in Abu Dhabi three-and-a-half years ago, at a time when there was no American football in the UAE. The youngster instead turned to soccer and rugby to get his sporting fix before the EAFL was founded in 2012 and gave him an opportunity.
The time spent away from the game hasn’t hurt Williams’ pedigree; he insists that the lessons learnt playing rugby have directly helped his American football gamewhile natural growth has turned him into an individual who can already mix it up with the adults.
“Back in America, I played in Grade IX and I hadn’t grown that much and didn’t play that much,” Williams said.
“But since then I’ve got a lot bigger and a lot quicker and I’ve gotten way better. My quality is 10 times better than it was when I was in the States.
“In this country there was no American football. I had kind of given up hope on the whole Virginia Tech thing and when I heard about the EAFL I thought this is my shot.
“Playing for the Wildcats Varsity [team] helped a lot last year, but being with the adults this year helped a lot more because the guys there have played some high school and college [level games].
“Obviously also they’re much bigger, so they have helped me getused to that contact. Rugby really helped, they had me always running and that’s what they have me doing here.
“A lot of times in rugby you have one guy that you have to beat, and now I can come here and do the same thing.”
Williams’ rugby education was in clear view for much of the Wildcats’ win. A play run over and over again was almost straight from a rugby textbook. Quarterback Cory Piesel would take a snap, run down the right wing with Williams in toe. Piesel would draw in the defensive attention before offloading to Williams, who would burst into the open space.
“That situation is good because they have to worry about two guys running the ball. If one guy has it he can pass it along, it’s just like rugby,” said Williams.
So when tryouts begin in Virginia, there will be a representative of the EAFL with a good shot of making the team in one of America’s most prestigious programmes.
Should Williams get there, he won’t have forgotten where he comes from.
“The league really gave me something here and I really want to give something back. I know for sure if I make the team in Virginia, they’ll know I came from the EAFL and Abu Dhabi.”