Japan’s Tomoya Machino embarks on a journey of a lifetime

For a Japanese country boy who didn’t start playing football until college, Tomoya Machino cut an impressive figure at the CFL Global Combine held in Japan recently.

The 6’5″, 299 pound, 22-year-old native of Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture in central Japan, definitely stood out according to the CFL’s Director of Global Scouting, Greg Quick.

“Not only did Tomoya stand out physically, but his agility for a man of his size was outstanding. He had the best shuttle time of all the o linemen and showed that he can pull and move extremely well.”

Machino, who recently graduated after playing for four years for Japan’s nationally renowned Kyoto University football team, had not intended on continuing a career in football after college. He has definitely changed his mind now.

“I am extremely honoured. I never thought I could continue after finishing university but now I will be participating on behalf of Japan, so I will prepare well and show my best performance.”

He had been a baseball player in high school in Japan before taking up football in college so the sport was new to him until only four years ago.

“It wasn’t until I entered college that I saw football for the first time. I liked it right away. I felt it was a very attractive sport, and I got interested.”

Kyoto University offensive tackle Tomoya Machino (rear) towers over a Ritsumeikan University defender. MITSUAKI HIROTA

The newbie to the game picked it up quickly and caught the attention of Japan’s national team coaches who selected him for the World University Championships held in Harbin, China in 2018.  For Machino, this was a watershed event and a lasting memory.

“Playing for my country on the Japanese national team in the World University Championships is my favorite memory in my career. I was very proud to represent Japan and fight other countries.”

Quick was also impressed with how well Machino adjusted and how he continued to work on his technique, even during the combine.

“You could tell he was a student of the game. In the one on ones, he got beat his first time out but then adjusted and won the next three in a row. He showed great attention to detail and a love for the game.”

The trip to the CFL Combine in Toronto in March will be a huge journey for someone who did not know much about the CFL, let alone Canada, before all of this.

“I knew a little about the CFL and I knew that forward motion is allowed. But I didn’t know any of the other rules that are different than the NFL. I have a lot to learn. I have not been to Canada but I knew that Canada is very cold and a country full of nature.”

For a man who not that long ago contemplated giving up football, this is a major undertaking, but he says the support of his family has been key.

“My family understands my situation and is very supportive. That means a lot to me.”

The CFL crew heads to Denmark on February 29 for the next CFL Global Combine and then moves on to Brazil on March 7 and winds up the global combine tour in Mexico on March 15.


Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.