Player of Australian football strives for national team

PUNCHY—Gabriel Del Camp punches the ball toward a teammate on April 17 during LA Dragon practices. CN/DIEGO LINARES
PUNCHY—Gabriel Del Camp punches the ball toward a teammate on April 17 during LA Dragon practices.              CN/DIEGO LINARES

By Daniela Jalteco

East Los Angeles College student Gabriel Martin Del Campo is pursuing his interest to join the United States national team as he plays for the Australian football team the Los Angeles Dragons.

The L.A. Dragons is one of the top teams in the United States and will be playing nationally against 40 different teams.

Prior to joining the Australian football team, Del Campo played Rugby for 10 years.

“Back in 2014 while I was competing for a Rugby tournament in Sydney, Australia. I went out to a local bar and started watching an Australian football game they had on TV, and that’s when I discovered my interest for the game,” Del Campo said.

He also said that when he came back to L.A., he looked at different Australian football teams and found the L.A. Dragons. Del Campo decided to join the team in 2014.

“Gabriel has very good skills. He sees the field very well, he’s a great teammate and overall, a really great player,” teammate Donald Lee said.

The season started on April 24 and will end on October 14. The LA Dragons have played at San Pedro and San Diego and they will soon play in Orange County, Riverside and in San Pedro once more.

The L.A. Dragons will compete against the San Francisco, Seattle and Sacramento teams in the Western Regional Tournament starting July 16.

Tom Ellis, the U.S. national coach, will attend the tournament in Portland to scout for players. Ellis will determine whether Del Campo makes the national team or not.

“Gabe’s a really fast learner and that was something that really impressed me, how quickly he picked up the game and how he loves the challenge,” L.A. Dragon’s coach John Fragomeni said.

Gabriel will be informed if he makes the US National team on October 14, based on his performance throughout the games and Western Regional Tournament.

Fragomeni said that if Del Campo makes the cut, he will have the opportunity to go to Australia in November.

“It’s gonna be a lot of pressure, but you just have to perform. Hopefully it’s a good day for me at the tournament. Even big stars have bad days, but I feel I can perform well,” Del Campo said.

Fragomeni said if Del Campo makes the cut, he will go through a preseason training camp with a development group at his side to develop him for high-level Australian football. They will help him advance his skills from being semi-pro to pro.

“He is an amazing and very talented athlete. He plays extremely well and I think he is going to play amazingly well at the Nationals,” Fragomeni said.

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