Five years ago, a 12-year-old Jack Bell was only hearing about gridiron for the first time from an American friend. Now he is representing Victoria with dreams of one day playing in the NFL.
Speaking with The Courier, the 17-year-old from Canadian didn't have to elaborate on why he loves to play gridiron. He plays simply because "it's different, it's fun."
As a 14-year-old Bell took the initiative and started to come down to the Ballarat Gridiron men's team training to better understand the game.
"I remember I just wanted to play so badly," Bell said.
"Obviously I was too young but just being around the team made me want to get on the field so much more."
Alex Spittle took over as Ballarat Gridiron head coach in 2017 and remembers loving the passion for the game Bell showed.
"He came down when he was really young and showed a lot of interest in playing which we obviously loved to see," he said.
Come the 2018 preseason, a now 16-year-old Bell was ready to finally put on the pads with a group he had grown close with over the years. After getting the all-clear from Bell's parents, the team was excited to see what he could produce on the field.
"I just remember how nervous but excited I was before my first game," Bell said.
"I was finally getting to play, it was such an amazing opportunity."
Spittle and his fellow coaches planned to ease Bell into the game slowly to build experience. That plan didn't last long.
"I realised quickly he was just so talented - his knowledge on the field was so impressive - before long he secured a large roll within our team," Spittle said.
He's definitely got the potential to play at a high level.Ballarat Gridiron coach Alex Spittle on Jack Bell's talent
Bell thrived in his role as a defensive pest, looking to disrupt passing lanes and shut down the opposing offence.
Playing against men Bell said he had to learn and adapt to the physicality of the game on the fly. His play with the Ballarat turned heads, leading to an opportunity with the Victorian Eagles Gridiron team at the 2019 Junior National Championships taking place from April 13 to 20. The Eagles are currently undefeated in the tournament.
Looking to the future, Bell says he is going to keep getting better until he is playing gridiron at the highest level.
"(The NFL) is my biggest goal," he said. Bell highlighted past Australian success stories in the NFL as his biggest motivators.
"Adam Gotsis has been a real role model for me. He grew up in Victoria and just kept working until he was good enough for the NFL."
Bell's next game with Victoria will be against Queensland on Thursday afternoon.