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The former Cardiff Rugby player who has his sights on the NFL

07 Feb 2024 4 minute read
Evan Williams. Image: S4C

A Welshman from Bridgend who is one of American College Football’s shining talents, has his sights on fulfilling his dream of playing in the NFL.

S4C cameras have been following 23-year-old Evan Williams as he plays his final season of All-American Football for Missouri Western State University.

Evan then plans to go on to apply for a spot in the NFL league – the pinnacle of American football.

Stream now

The Big Kick series will be available to stream on all S4C digital platforms including S4C Clic and BBC iPlayer from 6 February and will be broadcast on S4C at 22.00 on 8 February.

Wales star Louis Rees-Zammit recently announced that he was leaving rugby to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL.

Every year, over a million young people in the USA compete in High School American football.

Only 6% manage to reach the collegiate level, and less than 1% of those reach the NFL.

The programme shows Evan’s personal struggle and sacrifice as he seeks to succeed in one of the world’s most competitive and popular sports.

As a teenager, Evan played rugby for Cardiff Blues:

“When I was 16, the Blues dropped me from the development squad because I was ‘too small’, so I had to look for new opportunities”.

He moved to the USA to pursue a rugby scholarship, but was soon invited to take part in American football trials with Missouri Western State, the former home of some of the NFL’s biggest stars.

Unlike collegiate sports in the United Kingdom, US College Football is huge, with an average of 40,000 attending the games, and the players well-known all over the country.

“On a mission”

Evans says: “College football is much bigger than professional rugby back home”.

“For example the changing rooms make the Welsh Rugby Union’s changing rooms look small, the gyms we have are enormous and are updated with the latest technology – we have iPads on every rack, different coaches to help us, and we have an indoor facility so we can train whenever we need.

“The celling is high enough to practice kicking, so there’s all this really expensive stuff, but of course it’s justified with how big the sport is out here. I’ve been able to experience all that through kicking basically.

“I’d be lying if I said I was sad that I’d never made it in rugby, because it was my dream to play for Wales. When I was told I was too small, that was probably the most heart breaking experience I had in my sports journey, and that’s when I had to figure out what my new path would be. That’s when America came into the picture.

“I’ve been on a mission to improve myself ever since. I didn’t like being told that I was too small or not going to make it, so I was really committed to this idea of being the best I could in this sport.

“I still keep up with Welsh rugby, and I always plan to – it’s done so much for me, I will never forget where I’ve come from. My Welsh rugby roots are strong.

“I’m hoping that my story can inspire young athletes to keep going, even if the world around you tells you you shouldn’t, because that really is the essence of my experience. If my younger self could see me now, I think he’d be very very proud. I’d like that to be the message that this documentary conveys, to encourage kids to chase their dreams – to inspire greatness.”

Y Gic Fawr: On S4C’s digital platforms: Tuesday 6 February

On S4C: Thursday 8 February 22.00

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