The NFL and the International Federation of American Football [IFAF], the sport’s world governing body, joined forces this week to celebrate the occasion of Olympic Day with a showcase of flag football in Accra, Ghana.
Children aged 12 to 14 from 10 local schools in Accra joined NFL stars and legends and the Ghana American Football Federation to play flag football and celebrate Olympic Day by wearing the colours of the Olympic rings and highlighting the #OlympicDay and #MoveForPeace messages. The young participants also had lessons in teamwork and sportsmanship.
The NFL and IFAF joined sports organisations globally to promote the theme ‘Move For Peace’ – aligned to the International Olympic Committee’s overarching message of ‘Together For A Better World’. Olympic Day has been held annually on 23 June since 1948.
The Flag Football Day was one of a range of sporting activities, including a local talent identification camp and a fan event, during NFL Africa: The Touchdown, a week of festivities designed to engage the growing American Football fanbase and attract new players and fans across the nation and wider region.
In particular, IFAF and the NFL are promoting flag football – the quicker, more inclusive, non-contact discipline of American football to drive forward the sport’s international expansion plans and accelerate global growth.
Current NFL stars that took part in the event and wider week of activities included: Seattle Seahawks Uchenna Nwosu [Nigeria], Houston Texans Ogbonnia Okoronkwo [Nigeria], Cleveland Browns Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah [Ghana], and Indianapolis Colts Kwity Paye [Liberia]. The line-up also included NFL Legends Mathias Kiwanuka [Uganda], and Osi Umenyiora [Nigeria].
With more than 100 players of African descent [born in Africa or first generation born in the U.S.] playing in the NFL, this week’s events highlighted the contributions of its African players and introduced the sport to the next generation of fans.
These international events again reaffirmed the growing popularity of flag football and IFAF and the NFL’s shared commitment to develop the discipline globally.
Pierre Trochet, President of IFAF, said:
“The partnership and integrated approach between the NFL and IFAF have helped to deliver amazing American football events in Ghana that showcase the youth-focused flag football discipline.
“American football is growing globally and we believe flag will power the next phase of its development in Africa and worldwide as a fast-paced, inclusive, easy to play and watch, format of the sport.
“On the occasion of Olympic Day, and looking ahead to flag’s debut at The World Games next month, we are committed to growing the game around the world and engaging the next generation of sports fans.”
Damani Leech, NFL Chief Operating Officer of International, said:
“Flag football is the cornerstone of the NFL’s youth participation strategy. As we continue to invest in growing our youth fan base in both our domestic and international markets, flag football will increasingly be a focus of growth for the NFL.
“What we have witnessed this week in Africa gives us enormous confidence that American football has huge potential around the world.
Our relationship with IFAF, particularly through our flag development programmes, will be crucial in realising that potential and introducing a new generation of players and fans to the sport.”