American Football Gaining Ground In Nigeria

Nigeria is becoming fertile ground for the NFL to find players.

New Orleans Saints defensive end David Onyemata was a Nigerian exchange student at the University of Manitoba in Canada before being drafted by the Saints. Caleb Orobosa Benenoch moved from Lagos, Nigeria to Texas at the age of nine and now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With more and more Nigerians finding their way onto NFL rosters, the country is still struggling to build a grassroots base. However, thanks to the efforts of Amadi Chukwuemeka, head of the American Football For African Mission, the game is beginning to grow in the African nation.

Oct 30, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) celebrates after a defensive stop to win the game as time expired during the fourth quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Seahawks 25-20. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 30, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) celebrates after a defensive stop to win the game as time expired during the fourth quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Seahawks 25-20. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

IAAFL African Tournament

Chukwuemeka recently appeared on Nigeria’s Channel 24 to explain the development of American football in this western African nation and about preparations for participation in the IAAFL (International Amateur American Football League) African Nations tournament scheduled for late January 2017.

A total of nine African nations were invited to take part in the tournament in Morocco.

Morocco (as the host), the Ivory Coast, Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya have all been invited. However, for a variety of reasons, the tournament will likely now involve just three countries, Morocco, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.

Nevertheless, with the apparent backing of Molea Bruno, president of AICS  (Associazione Italiana Cultura e Sport) and World President of CSIT (Confédération Sportive Internationale Travailliste et Amateur), the tournament could well expand in future.

Nigeria taking tournament seriously. Chukwuemeka is putting together a squad of 53 players to compete. Final tryout camp will be held in the second week of January 2017 according to Chukwuemeka.

Recently, two of the only three teams in Nigeria, the Lagos Marines and the IBOM Tigers played a game in Lagos. Following the contest, the tireless Chukwuemeka appeared on television to explain his vision for American football in Nigeria.

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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