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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Former Sydney Swans coach Paul Roos, whose wife is American, was in California last summer. While there, he conducted a footy clinic. Among the attendees was Alex Starling, a talented college basketball player who has also played American football. In August, Starling spent three weeks in Australia for more testing and impressed Sydney Coach John Longmire, development manager Stuart Maxfield and head of player personnel Kinnear Beatson. So impressed is the club that it has signed Starling under the AFL's International Scholarship plan.Starling is currently a student at Florida's Bethune-Cookman University. In between studies, he will travel to Australia to train with the Swans who can officially draft him as an international rookie next year.

Roos, who currently heads the newly-founded Sydney Swans Academy described the 6'4", 204-pound Starling as "...an amazing athlete ..." with the ability to pick up the skills of the game. The recruiting team was also impressed with Starling's speed, ability in marking contests (catching the ball) and his kicking skills. Factor in his desire to learn a new game and a desire to succeed, and the Swans believe the potential is there.

Starling will follow in the footsteps of other converts such as retired defender Tadhg Kennelly (Gaelic Football), Kieran Jack (Rugby League), Lewis Roberts-Thompson (Rugby Union) and Myke Pike (Canada). Former Port Adelaide ruckman and current senior coach Matthew Primus and Collingwood's Scott Pendlebury both switched from basketball. Collingwood also has American Shae McNamara as an international rookie. Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney have former rugby stars Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Jenny McAsey, Sydney Media Release, author notes

Article last changed on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 5:13 AM EDT


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