Osi Umenyiora leads NFL efforts to find talent in Africa

The NFL is headed to Africa, and Osei Omniora can’t wait.

A former All-Pro defensive champion and two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants of Nigerian descent, Umenyiora has been a leading voice in the league’s efforts to establish a foothold on the continent. Omniora will be part of the NFL squad traveling to Ghana for the league’s first official events during the week-long activities, starting June 21.

A talent identification camp will be the centerpiece of the programme, which is also slated to include a fan event and a football clinic. According to the league, there are over 100 players of African descent (either born in Africa or first-generation born in the United States) on the NFL rosters.

With the new program, the NFL isn’t just about immersing themselves in Africa, Omniora told Landscape. The league is diving in — and the former passing star says it’s the right thing to do.

Ominyora, who was born in London to Nigerian parents and spent seven years of his childhood in Nigeria, told Andscape.

“You see how many athletes we have in the NFL now are of African descent. There are a lot, and the wind is blowing stronger in that direction. We’ve seen what the NBA has done in terms of their investments in Africa. There is no reason why we can’t be fully on the ground there. Also. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

The NBA already has a very strong presence in Africa. In 2021, the association created a new entity to oversee its work in Africa. The partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is worth nearly $1 billion.

As part of the first NFL prediction camp in Africa, player officials will assess 40 players during a two-day process in Ghana. The players were selected after the first participation in the regional camps under the direction of Omniora.

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

“As we continue to look for ways to enhance the pipeline for international players, we hope that this camp and future camps will provide a pathway for aspiring players from across the continent. The best talent from the camp can be invited to participate in the international groups, the International Player Path Program, and for those athletes aged between 16 and 19 years old, there is an opportunity to attend the NFL Academy in London.”

In Nigeria, Omniora founded The Uprise, a football development program for 16-22-year-olds. Omniora also set up additional camps in Ghana and South Africa as well.

This year, three prospectives who participated in Omniora’s regional camps—and subsequently received invitations to the NFL International and Professional Day of the International Player Path Program—signed with NFL teams: Chigbo Roy Mbitika (Giants), and Haji Chisom Ndubuisi (Arizona Cardinals). )) and Kehinde Hassan Oginni (Kansas City Chiefs).

In addition to Omniora, former NFL players Mathias Kiwanuka (Uganda) and Roman Oppen (Cameroon) are set to be among the league’s travel group. Current players are expected to attend events such as Uchenna Nwosu (Nigeria) of the Seattle Seahawks, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Nigeria) of the Houston Texans, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Ghana) of the Cleveland Browns and Kwity Paye (Liberia) of the Indianapolis Colts.

“We’re doing it the right way,” Omniora said. “This is where we need to be.”

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