American League has already held camps to identify talent in Ghana (2022) and Kenya (2023) – Reproduction / Twitter (@NFLAfrica)
The NFL wants to get closer to Africa because of the continent’s “extremely exciting potential”. To do this, it will use digital platforms and work with broadcast partners for content opportunities. The information is from the British website SportsPro Media, which interviewed Brett Gosper, head of the American football league for Europe and Africa.
Among the main reasons for the approach is the fact that more than 120 players currently playing in the NFL are descendants of 15 countries on the African continent. One of the first actions with this objective was put into practice earlier this month, with a camp to identify talent in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
For this year, Brett Gosper was joined by former player Osi Umenyiora, twice Super Bowl champion for the New York Giants in 2007/2008 and 2011/2012, who has Nigerian parents but was born in the United Kingdom.
“It’s important to owners and it’s important to NFL players that we have a presence in Africa. It is very important for us to make the game grow on the continent, both from a fan and participation point of view. There is extremely exciting potential in this market, which is driven in many ways by the athletes themselves. There is no area outside the United States that provides more athletes for the biggest competition in the world”, highlighted Gosper.
At the moment, however, commercial NFL Africa activations are yet to happen, as well as the icing on the cake, namely a league game on the continent. According to the executive, this is a long-term job in which it is necessary to “plant the seeds” so that opportunities appear over time.
“Now, our concern is to involve the fan base with the game”, he explained.
In addition to continuing to run flag football clinics, fan events and camps, another more pressing goal for the league is to bring more prominence to current NFL players of African descent and their connections to African countries in order to generate interest and excitement among younger fans on the continent. The league also plans to use its own digital platforms and work with media partners such as ESPN to provide increased airtime and content opportunities to tell stories centered on deepening the NFL’s connection with Africans.
“It’s probably the most tangible connection to see these athletes come from their hometown or their home country and then make it to the big time. Having these athletes that arouse this interest is great, it’s a discovery. This is obviously a sports-mad continent, so discovering some of the world’s greatest athletes through people in their own countries resonates very strongly.”