History was made in London on July 2nd as 150 kids battled it out to become part of the first class at the NFL’s London Academy. The ground-breaking institute is the first of its kind outside of the US and will give select student athletes the opportunity to combine life skills with intensive sport training under full time coaches. Upon graduation, the students will not only have the chance to pursue pathways into employment and further education but also the chance to play for an NCAA college team in the USA. The players will be coached by British American Football legend Tony Allen who previously coached the London Warriors.
The try-out took place in Tottenham Hotspurs new stadium (which has been recently fitted specifically for NFL games) and was attended by current NFL players JuJu Smith Schuster and London native Efe Obada. Obada and Smith Schuster were both very impressed with the “Stadium Showcase” particularly by the talent and passion for the sport that was on display. Obada especially, knows how valuable any opportunity to play in the NFL can be. Obada played for the London Warriors before getting his shot to make the jump to the pro’s. He didn’t have this resource at his disposal.
So who can join the NFL’s London Academy? Well, according to their website they are looking for “16-18 year old talented American Football players, cross over athletes or those who have yet to play the sport”. Basically, if you haven’t turned 18 yet and are athletically inclined with an interest in the NFL you have what they’re looking for. Unfortunately, the age limit rules myself and probably all of our readers out as well! It seems that I’ll have to keep waiting for my chance to finally make it in the NFL.
Despite my disappointment at being ruled out, I think the launch of a dedicated NFL UK education centre is major indication of the growth of the game in Europe. It also presents a huge chance for young talented Irish players. At the moment the furthest you can go in Ireland is the National Team, which in itself a huge honour. But imagine being able to take your skills and love for the game to another level altogether. Imagine playing College Football.
If you think you have what it takes then head over to www.nflacademy.com/whowerelookingfor and register. And who knows, you could be the next Irish man to be playing College Football!