Osi Umenyiora helps expand 'NFL Africa' program
The NFL Africa program is set to expand to Kenya as the league continues to invest in growing the game at all levels across the continent.
The expansion will see the NFL host a talent identification camp and NFL Flag football showcase in Nairobi, Kenya this April (10-15), underlining a long-term, multi-market commitment to developing more ways to serve a growing fan base in Africa.
"Growing the NFL globally is a major strategic priority for the League and developing our footprint and fandom in Africa is an important part of this vision," said Brett Gosper, Head of NFL Europe & Africa. "We are excited to expand NFL Africa into Kenya and look forward to creating opportunities for the next generation of African players and fans there to engage with our sport. From NFL Flag inspiring young people to play the game around the world, to building pathways for more international athletes to play in the NFL, there is a place in our sport for everyone."
With more than 125 players of African descent (born in Africa or first generation born in the U.S.) from 15 countries across the continent currently playing in the NFL, a talent identification camp for promising young athletes will take place this month in Kenya.
Twenty-nine prospects aged 16 – 21, from African nations including Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and Senegal will take part in a 3-day NFL Combine-style camp to showcase their skills.
Participants will be competing for invites to the NFL International Combine, NFL International Player Pathway Program, or the opportunity to join the NFL Academy in the UK as part of League efforts to advance pathways to play in the NFL for international athletes.
Players were invited to attend the NFL event, spearheaded by Osi Umenyiora, a two-time Super Bowl champion who was born in the UK to Nigerian parents, after taking part in Umenyiora's 'The Uprise' initiative, which held scouting events for more than 200 athletes across six countries in recent months.
"It has always been a dream of mine to bring the NFL to Africa and over the past couple of years The Uprise and NFL have made that dream a reality," said Umenyiora, NFL's lead ambassador for NFL Africa. "It's been incredible to see the opportunities it has provided through the International Player Pathway Program, the NFL Academy and Flag football, and this is only the beginning."
Several current NFL players will join the activities in Kenya including Brian Asamoah, Minnesota Vikings (Ghana), Arnold Ebiketie, Atlanta Falcons (Cameroon), Paulson Adebo, New Orleans Saints (Benin), Ikem Ekwonu, Carolina Panthers (Nigeria) and Emmanuel Ogbah, Miami Dolphins (Nigeria).
An NFL Flag football showcase is also planned, introducing the game to young people from 10 schools across Nairobi. Alongside the showcase, the NFL will host training clinics for local teachers and the Kenyan Federation of American Football to help develop coaching skills to deliver NFL Flag football and expand participation across the country.
"The Kenya Academy of Sports (KAS) is honored to be partnering with the National Football League to further the sport of American football through the introduction of NFL Flag football in schools," said Dr. Doreen Odhiambo, Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Academy of Sports. "As part of a mandate to develop sports talent across the country, KAS together with the NFL have engaged 10 schools through the Ministry of Education from the Kasarani area to participate in a 12-week NFL Flag football program, culminating in a tournament later this year. KAS is delighted to bring this new sport through the school talent pathway."
George Alwanga, President of the Kenyan Federation of America Football (KFAF), added: "We are delighted to be partnering with the National Football League to showcase and deliver a Flag football program for young people in Kenya. This partnership will have a positive impact on the future growth of Flag football in the country, encouraging more schools and communities to embrace and enjoy the sport, and aligns with KFAF's objectives to develop the sport across the country and provide an opportunity for young Kenyans to learn and play the game."
NFL Flag is one of the fastest growing sports globally. The sport empowers young athletes, boys and girls, around the world and instils in them a lifelong passion for the game. Flag football is fun, exciting, and accessible for all; with women and girls driving some of the fastest growth in the sport.
Flag football is currently played by more than 20 million people in over 100 countries. It provides a structured opportunity for youth to play the game whilst discovering the importance of sportsmanship, teamwork, and friendship both on and off the field.
The expansion follows a successful delivery of programs in Ghana in 2022, including talent identification camps, NFL Flag football clinics and fan events held across the year in Accra.
The NFL's ongoing football development efforts in Ghana saw a youth NFL Flag football team represent the nation in the NFL International Flag Football Championships at the 2023 Pro Bowl Games in Las Vegas. The team, despite only having learned the game a few months earlier, made it to the semi-finals of the 10-team competition.
The events in April will take place at the Kasarani Sports Complex, Nairobi, supported by the Kenyan Government and Kenya Academy of Sports.
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