Running back Taku Lee and offensive lineman Tomoya Machino have become the first Japanese players to be extended invitations to showcase their skills for Canadian Football League (CFL) general managers, coaches and scouts at the CFL Combine in Toronto from March 26-28. Players from across Japan gathered in Tokyo and Osaka – two of the country’s largest cities – to take part in the weekend’s back-to-back CFL Global Combines, conducted in partnership with Japan’s National Football Association (NFA).
“We’re grateful to our incredible hosts at the NFA for coordinating and managing two great events in two days,” said CFL Chief Financial Officer and Head of Football Operations, Greg Dick. “We couldn’t have hoped for better-executed combines and we look forward to seeing Taku and Tomoya in Toronto.”
Riichiro Fukahori, Commissioner of the NFA:
“As part of this historic moment in Japanese football, we would like to thank our partners at the CFL for their efforts in implementing this combine. Just one year ago, we could not have imagined this would happen – many Japanese football fans are now eagerly anticipating the day when we will have the first player from our country playing in the CFL. As members of the International Alliance of Gridiron Football, we are honored to contribute to the worldwide development of the sport by strengthening our partnership with the CFL.”
During the 2019 season, CFL rosters featured, for the first time ever, one designated ‘global player’ from outside the U.S. and Canada on each team’s active roster and as many as two more on their practice rosters. In 2020, the number of global players per team will increase to two on the active roster and up-to-three on the practice roster, with as many as 45 global players competing in the league.
The full list of global players invited to Toronto will be announced following the completion of the 10 Global Combines. The 2020 CFL Global Draft is slated for April 16.
So far, 13 players have been chosen from the CFL Global Combines held in Finland, Sweden, and France. Joining Lee and Machino are Niklas Liesen and Sven Breidenbach from Germany, Micky Kyei and Sebastien Sagne from the Finnish combine and from the combine in Sweden, defensive back William James.
The French combine produced receiver Anthony Mahoungou and defensive back Tony Anderson, both who have attended NFL camps. From the camp in Italy, defensive lineman Lorenzo Dalle Piagge has emerged with an invitation to Toronto while linebacker David Izinyon was picked from the combine held in Great Britain.