American Football casts its net to Africa to find new talent
The NFL is always looking for new places and methods to discover talent and Africa is now firmly on the radar of one of the world’s richest sporting codes. While the NFL has featured several professional players with their roots and origins from the African continent, there has never been an established talent pipeline from Africa to the NFL.
World Wide Scholarships (WWS) and Jim Ulrich from Enter Sports Management have joined forces and between them are laying the groundwork for a professionalised talent pipeline that will uncover American Football talent in Africa.
In order to facilitate and expedite the project, WWS and Ulrich enlisted the help of Rick Serritella, the CEO of NFL Draft Bible, who also provides the NFL Draft content for Sports Illustrated and is a recognized industry media expert.
The fruit of this tripartite relationship is a new NFL scouting camp for African talent called the WWS American Football Camp (WWSAFC). “We’re excited to be launching WWSAFC to open a pipeline of African sporting talent. We think local African talent has great potential in the NFL,” says Ulrich.
Successfully establishing a link between Australia and the NFL in 2016 with Lachlan Edwards’ signing by the Jets, Ulrich is keen to blow open the doors for an as-yet unexplored sporting code in Africa. His partnership with WWS, which places African sporting talent with a broad range of clubs and organisations around the world, aims to quickly formalise the African route to the NFL.
“Opportunities for African talent in the NFL have been restricted by high equipment costs, but the demand for elite competitors in this high-profile sport – which remains the greatest spectator draw among American sporting codes – has risen to such an extent due to the high level of competition that NFL teams are scanning abroad for the right blend of skills and physical attributes to turn African talent into NFL stars,” Ulrich says.
“This collaboration is going to take the talent of Africa and put it in front of NFL teams so the NFL Dream will no longer be a dream or foreign concept for Africa’s great athletes,” adds Ulrich.
WWS CEO Munya Maraire – a former Penn State University track and football player – says he is excited to create new opportunities for athletes in Africa. “For many years identification and recruitment of African talent has been constrained to certain sporting codes because of their local dominance. However, with WWSAFC we are looking to propel talented young athletes into sporting codes that do not yet have much of a presence in Africa – changing lives and career prospects for many young Africans.”
WWS is Africa’s leading talent development and opportunity linking organisation with a presence in over 25 African countries.
WWSAFC scouting camp will open up a new avenue for African sporting talent to head to the US on college scholarships and the possibility of playing in the NFL.
The first camp will be held from August 6-9 at HS Transvalia and other consecutive camps will be confirmed in other countries in the African region. A selection of players who fit the skills and ability prerequisites for the NFL will be profiled on the NFL Draft Bible site. Videos of the participants will be sent to NFL teams to gauge interest.
Besides Ulrich and Serritella, the NFL and CFL group coming to the event will include NFL veteran and NFL Network stars Brian Baldinger, Jim Mora (former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks and American college UCLA), and John Murphy, former VP of Football Operations and player personnel at Saskatchewan Roughriders.
In addition, there will be an NFL camera crew to video the event with the best players being presented to the NFL as well as the top American Universities. Boys aged 17 – 23 and older players with professional sports experience will be eligible to take part in the scouting camps.
For more information and to sign up to attend the camp, visit www.wwsscoutcamp.com