Hayball's new gridiron home

A Port Pirie-born talent has successfully transitioned from AFL to American football - playing in front of 103,000 people just one year after being delisted from Geelong Football Club.

Matthew Hayball, who was born in Pirie, but played junior football in Roxby Downs, was picked up by Geelong at the end of 2015 and played three seasons with the club.

As his AFL career was wrapping up in 2018, Hayball was scouted by Prokick Australia, an organisation that identifies and trains Australian athletes to perform at the College/NFL level, particularly as punters.

After a year of training with Prokick, Hayball was noticed by a number of American colleges and eventually signed a four-year scholarship at Florida Atlantic University.

Matthew Hayball's father, Geoff Hayball - also born and raised in Port Pirie - went to visit Matthew for his first two games at the Florida College.

"He's going quite well and he's improving every week which is helping of course," Geoff said.

It was at just Matthews first game, played against Ohio, where 103,000 people filled the stadium. "The atmosphere was incredible and being the Yanks they go over the top with everything - marching bands and cheerleaders and all that sort of thing," Geoff explained.

"Police escorts to the ground and police escorts back to the plane. That was a real buzz."

With a number of "massive" 70+ yard punts (kicks) and an average punt distance of more than 40 yards, Matthew has had an impressive first season - helping to pave the way for other aspiring Australian punters.