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NFL to Hold First Official Events in Africa

The NFL takes flight to Ghana later this month for a week of activities for fans and athletes alike.

The NFL will hold its first official events in Africa beginning on June 21, the league has announced. The week of activities will be titled NFL Africa: The Touchdown, and it will include a talent identification camp, a fan event, and a flag football clinic. 

The news comes just a couple weeks after the NFL announced that the Philadelphia Eagles would be the first team to market in Africa, by way of Ghana.

Players that will be on-site include Seattle Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, Houston Texans’ linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and Indianapolis Colts defensive end Kwity Paye. Former NFL players Mathias Kiwanuka, Roman Oben and Osi Umenyiora will participate as well. 

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“This is a truly remarkable initiative,” Umenyiora told Boardroom prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. “This camp is not only giving opportunities to great African athletes, it is also highlighting the incredible African athletes already in the NFL. The positive impact of this cannot be overstated.”

Umenyiora established The Uprise, a football program in Nigeria that has held regional camps in Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa in recent months. Players that stood out were invited to the NFL’s upcoming camp, which will be held in Ghana. This year, three players that were discovered through The Uprise and went on to participate in the International Combine and IPP Pro Day have signed with NFL teams – Chigbo Roy Mbaeteka (New York Giants), Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi, (Arizona Cardinals), and Kehinde Hassan Oginni (Kansas City Chiefs). 

Osi Umenyiora takes 40-yard dash times during practice runs at the Uprise Camp in Nigeria (Photo credit: Sope Isaac Kuyinu)

The league has over 100 players of African descent (born in Africa or first generation born in the U.S.).

June 25 will serve as NFL FLAG Day at the Ghana International School in collaboration with the Ghana American Football Federation. On June 26, the NFL Fan Zone will offer fans the opportunity to interact with current and former NFL players and give them the chance to participate in brand activations by EA Madden, Mitchell & Ness and Wilson.

The NFL FLAG Day and NFL Fan Zone will also feature Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders, as well as prizes and giveaways from the team. The club’s Senior Vice President of Media & Marketing, Jen Kavanaugh, will be in attendance as the Eagles are the first NFL club to enter a market in Africa through the International HMA* initiative and can activate in Ghana as of June 1. 

“We look forward to hosting our first camp in Ghana and will look to activate in Nigeria and other African countries in the future,” said Damani Leech, NFL Chief Operating Officer of International in a release. “We want to provide an opportunity for the next generation of African prospects to showcase and further develop their talent.”

“As we continue to look for ways to strengthen the pipeline of international players, we hope this camp, and future camps, provide a path for aspiring players from across the continent. Top talent from the camp could be invited to participate in International Combines, the International Player Pathway program, and for those athletes ages 16 to 19, there’s the opportunity to attend the NFL Academy in London.” 

NFL Network will follow the journey of NFL players and legends as they participate in events in Ghana, as well as in cultural experiences across Accra and the Cape Coast, for an upcoming feature. 

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About The Author
Randall Williams
Randall Williams
Randall Williams is a Staff Writer covering sports business and music for Boardroom. Before joining the team, he previously worked for Sportico, Andscape and Bloomberg. His byline has also been syndicated in the Boston Globe and Time Magazine. Williams' notable profile features he has written include NFL Executive VP Troy Vincent, Dreamville co-founder Ibrahim Hamad, BMX biker Nigel Sylvester and both Shedeur and Shilo Sanders. Randall, a graduate of "The Real HU" - Hampton University - is most proud of scooping Howard University joining Jordan Brand nearly three months before the official announcement.