The NFL Academy which is based in London, England offers over 80 teens who are mostly from Great Britain the opportunity to train, study, and practice in hopes of earning a scholarship to play American football for a University in the United States. This program was launched approximately 2 years ago, and the NFL Academy provides these student athletes with top football coaches as well as state–of–the–art training facilities.
The Impact of the COVID – 19 Pandemic
Although this initiative of the National Football League is a very promising effort to expand globally, it faces several problems which have been mostly attributed to the COVID – 19 pandemic. The issues the NFL Academy faces is that there have not been real football games for the athletes in this program to participate in yet, and they aim to send these student athletes to visit some United States college football summer camp programs as well.
It is great news to hear that the NFL Academy in London has scheduled a game this Saturday, October 23rd, 2021 when they are set to play a real game against a freshman squad from the University of East Anglia. Besides the COVID – 19 pandemic it has also been a challenge for the NFL Academy to find willing opponents of the same age group in order to schedule a fair game for these aspiring student athletes to play in.
Other games have been planned versus other University teams, academies located in both Sweden and France, and some other games are planned for the NFL Academy to play American football against European national teams who have American football programs there. This is just another example of how the COVID – 19 pandemic has interfered with international activities all across the world. Hopefully, the popularity of this program and others like it can overcome the devastation of the COVID – 19 pandemic and any other challenges that it faces.
The Importance of Game Film
It is very important for games to be played in order for the student athletes in the NFL Academy to have game film to send in for players looking to switch to a High School in the United States of America or be granted a scholarship to a University in the U. S. A. Hopefully now that games are being scheduled for the NFL Academy there will be some solid game film for the coaches and admissions officials overseas to review so that they are familiar with these individuals looking to come to the United States and play American football at either the high school or collegiate level.
The NFL Expansion Plans
The National Football League has been focusing on expanding its reach internationally to Europe as well as other continents. The NFL Academy based in London, England is a huge example of this especially as the NFL has been hosting a couple of their regular season games in London every year for the past several years or so. The National Football League just featured two games over the past couple of weeks in London, England. They play at huge venues too such as Wembley Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as well.
In order to bring awareness of the NFL Academy the National Football League has sent ambassadors like the great Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame wide receiver, Jerry Rice, overseas for the opening of the academy’s gym/training facility. Operations such as that definitely help promote the outstanding sport of American football in Europe as Europe is absolutely dominated by soccer throughout their sports landscape.
The National Football League is looking to replicate the model of the NFL Academy located in London, England by creating a similar program in Germany once the NFL begins bringing some NFL regular season games to Germany in the near future. The National Football League has expressed interest in the past of possibly relocating an NFL franchise such as the Jacksonville Jaguars to London or another major European city with a strong NFL presence and following already. These are all great initiatives by the National Football League as they attempt to expand globally in the future, and bring the great game of American football to other regions of the world.
“Because of COVID, we haven’t had the chance to play anybody,” coach Tony Allen explained last week. Allen goes on to say, “We try to get them as young as possible but they’re very green.”
“In the future and as early as next summer we’ll do those sorts of tours because actually what you need to do with these guys if they’re good enough, is they need that exposure out in the U.S.,” says the head of NFL Academy relations, Seni Majekodunmi. “Colleges need to see them; coaches need to see them. It’s not all about trying to get these guys to the NFL. Education reigns supreme. The number of kids who are going to make it out of this group is going to be really slim so they need to have that plan B.”
“Coaches want to see those guys compete against American kids,” NFL Academy advocate Brandon Collier confirmed. “I know for sure there is a lot of talent that’s coming through (the academy). It’s like how anything works, it’s kind of who you know and the exposure. You need the trust of the college coaches. (Even without the games, a lot of players) love the NFL brand and rightfully so. It’s the most powerful football brand in the world.”
“I devote everything I have to the game because this is my chance to not only play football at the next level but also get a university education,” NFL Academy tight end Peter Clarke stated. “I’m one of the first people in my family that will ever be able to go to university, so it’s a big thing for me.”
Maguire, Ken. “NFL Academy in London eyes games, US college summer camps”. The Associated Press. October 21, 2021.