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Camden New Journal - by STEVE BARNETT
Published: 24 July 2008
Bris Bolts to USA

LEONINE linebacker Jason Brisbane is set to live the American dream after being snapped up by National Football League side the San Diego Chargers.
The robust 25-year-old (pictured) flew out to California on Thursday to join up with the international practice squad at the club – nickname The Bolts – ahead of the new season.
Jason’s journey towards the big show would rival any Hollywood script. Just seven years ago, Bris, who was brought up in Camden Town, had only ever played the sport on his game console.
“When I was in college a friend invited me to join in a game. I was surprised because I didn’t even think they played American football in this country.
“I didn’t know that much about the game, I’d only ever played it a few times and that was on my Sega Mega Drive,” he said.
He became hooked on the sport, and went on to become a key player for Finsbury Park-based side the London Blitz. In 2004, he became the first player in the club’s history to make over 20 tackles in a game.
In the same year, Brisbane was voted most valuable player in the league, and still currently holds 17 Blitz statistics records.
Other career highlights include winning gold with Great Britain at the 2004 European Championships, and capturing the British National Championship with Blitz last year.
“When I won the league, I had mixed emotions. It was a dream to finally win something with the club where I first started. But after the celebrations I was ready to walk away from the game because I felt I had achieved all I was going to within the sport.”
It has been an emotional ride for the tough-tackling linebacker, who twice failed to make the cut after being invited to take part in a series of gruelling trials as part of the International Player Development Programme, a scheme set up to help American clubs scout the best talent from across Europe. Weighing less than 13 stone, Brisbane was asked to play safety, a role he was a stranger to.
“It was a very frustrating time for me because I was playing in an unfamiliar position, which I didn’t like. To play safety you have to have great patience and you remain on the edge of the game. That isn’t my style. I like to be in the thick of the action.
“But I still loved the game, so I decided that if I was going to be at my best I had to bulk up and play linebacker.”
With his sights set on a new challenge, Brisbane added more than four stone of muscle and at the third time of asking was selected for training camps in Spain and America, where he earned a place in the San Diego Chargers’ squad for the coming season.
“Everyone keeps asking me why I’m not jumping up and down and being really excited, but the truth is it hasn’t really hit home yet. The day I get my shirt with Brisbane on the back and the Chargers on the front will be my eureka moment.
“I’m well aware of the opportunity that I’ve been given. I’m at one of the best teams in the NFL. I’m going to train as hard as I can and become the best footballer that I can. Hopefully I can impress the coaches and earn the chance to prove myself and win a place in the full squad,” he added.

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