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East // East Oahu News
Steve Murray

All-stars To Battle For Gridiron Win

Yes, Virginia, they do play football in Australia. On Dec. 2, Kaiser High School will host the Pacific Rim Gridiron Game, a contest between the Hawaii Gridiron League All-Stars and their Southern Hemisphere counterparts, the Australia Southern Cross All-Stars.

According to Hawaii Gridiron League founder and CEO Derek Branch, the game is a highlight of the semi-professional league, which began its inaugural season in April and whose mission it is to grow the sport internationally and to evolve into a feeder system for the NFL.

“This league is made up of some of the top players in our league plus, players who are younger and need the development and can benefit from the experience of playing in an international football game,” he said.

A former University of Hawaii standout who played in the NFL, Canadian Football League and NFL Europe, Branch said this type of experience is very beneficial to current and former athletes. “Being a guy who played in NFL Europe, playing against guys from different countries is one of the best experiences of my life.”

As part of the game’s festivities, clinics for visiting players will be held for those who may have the passion but still lack some of the lifetime skill sets of their Hawaii counterparts.

“They are just a hungry bunch of guys who love to play, and they’re already playing in the World Cup of American Football every year,” Branch added. “They are guys who have played in a number of international gridiron games.”

Leading up to the 7:30 p.m. start time is a women’s game that has shifted into a five-on-five lingerie bowl -style contest, at the request and suggestion of the Australian participants. That game starts at 5.

“The whole issue is to do it in a respectable manner,” Branch explained. “They will be presented in a very professional way. It’s not a raunchy event, but it does have an edginess. It’s about giving fans another form of entertainment. We need that here in Hawaii.”

Tickets cost $10 at the gate. For more information, go to gridironhawaii.com.

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