TOKYO — For a Japanese country boy who didn’t start playing football until college, Tomoya Machino cut an impressive figure at the CFL Global Combine held in Japan.
The 6-foot-5, 299 pound native of Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture in Central Japan definitely impressed CFL director of global scouting Greg Quick.
“Not only did Tomoya stand out physically, but his agility for a man of his size was outstanding,” Quick said. “He had the best shuttle time of all the o-linemen and showed that he can pull and move extremely well.”
Machino, who recently graduated after playing for four years for Japan’s nationally renowned Kyoto University football team, hadn’t intended on continuing a career in football after college, but he’s definitely changed his mind now.
“I am extremely honoured,” Machino said. “I never thought I could continue after finishing university but now, I will be participating on behalf of Japan, so I will prepare well and show my best performance.”
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He had been a baseball player in high school before taking up football in college, so he was a newcomer to the sport up until four years ago.
“It wasn’t until I entered college that I saw football for the first time,” he said. “I liked it right away. I felt it.”
The 22-year-old picked it up quickly and caught the attention of Japan’s national team coaches who selected him for the World University Championships held in Harbin, China in 2018. For Machino, this was a watershed event and a lasting memory.
“Playing for my country on the Japanese national team in the World University Championships is my favourite memory in my career,” Machino said. “I was very proud to represent Japan and fight other countries.”
Quick was also impressed with how well Machino adjusted and continued to work on his technique, even during the combine.
“You could tell he was a student of the game,” Quick said. “In the one on ones, he got beat his first time out but then adjusted and won the next three in a row. He showed great attention to detail and a love for the game.”
The trip to the CFL Combine in Toronto in March will be a huge journey for someone who didn’t know much about the CFL, let alone Canada, before all of this.
“I knew a little about the CFL and I knew that forward motion is allowed,” Machino said. “But I didn’t know any of the other rules that are different than the NFL. I have a lot to learn. I have not been to Canada but I knew that Canada is very cold and a country full of nature.”
For a man who not long ago contemplated giving up football, this is a major undertaking, but he says the support of his family has been key.
“My family understands my situation and is very supportive. That means a lot to me,” he said.
The CFL crew heads to Denmark on February 29 for the next CFL Global Combine and then moves on to Brazil on March 7. The Global Combine tour will wrap up in Mexico on March 15.