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I'm all set for the big touch down; GRIDIRON MIRACLE MAN Cameron jets out to chase AAL dream after beating all the odds.

Byline: ALAN ROBERTSON

UNABLE to catch a ball as a kid, his dad would take him to the park religiously to stop a debilitating condition defining his life chances.

Now 23, Cameron Craig crosses the pond this week one step closer to his dream of a career in American football.

The Scot was born prematurely and had to undergo two lifesaving blood transfusions in the womb. He was then diagnosed with dyspraxia - a developmental condition that causes problems with coordination and movement - aged seven.

From being picked last in sports at school to the first Scot to be invited into the American Arena League (AAL), he stands on the verge of a pro career in the indoor game.

He will fly out tomorrow after being offered a contract by defending champions Carolina Havoc subject to making it through a two-week training camp. Craig said: "Not at all could I have imagined this.

"My coordination being the way it was, I really couldn't catch a ball when I was a young boy.

"My dad used to take me to the park for years religiously every Saturday to throw a rugby ball and kick a football to help with motor coordination.

"I became keen on rugby when I started high school. But I could have never dreamed I would be where I am. Sport for me was more just a way of being able to tackle an issue."

For his parents Scott and Louise, who feared he might not survive after being born six weeks early, it's just as rewarding.

Louise has rhesus negative blood and Cameron was rhesus positive. While pregnant she began to produce antibodies that attacked the baby's blood and led to his heart rate slowing down. The couple were warned signs of fluid on their baby's spine meant he could be born with a severe disability.

His condition worsened and he had to be delivered at 34 weeks. He weighed 7lb 7oz due to a build-up of fluid but his weight tumbled to 5lb.

But he admits his most humbling moment came when a women from Alabama, whose young son has dyspraxia, got in touch. Craig, who only took up the sport at 18, said: "I couldn't believe someone wanted to reach out to me from the other side of the world and I ended up FaceTiming him.

"Apparently it's really helped, he is so motivated. He's going to be coming to the first game with his mum if I make the roster, which would let me meet him.

"When they FaceTimed me his mother was driving him to a treatment centre to get physiotherapy. That's exactly what I used to do with my mum in South Queensferry.

"It just flooded me full of memories. It's frustrating when you're a kid and you're different and have to do things differently.

"But I do think sport, if you're into it, is 100 per cent the way to do it, especially a sport like American football.

"The sport takes all shapes, all sizes, it's very welcoming in that respect and it can provide a lot of confidence to a lot of people."

His Stateside venture hasn't come easy with an offer from a Las Vegas team falling through over visa complications.

Craig said: "I kind of felt as if somehow I had let people down and that did hurt.

"But then for an even more established team to offer me the chance to go and compete with players who are NFL quality, college quality, is unbelievable.

"Of course the dream is the NFL. And as slim as the chances are I have a very good habit of proving people wrong on things."

CAPTION(S):

JUST A BOY'S GAMECRAIG's dad Scott has helped him follow ambitions

HERE WE THROW Craig can't wait to continue his gridiron career in South Carolina
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 19, 2019
Words:639
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