Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi of The Uprise has been named for the NFL International Player Pathway Program

Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi has been named as one of the participants for the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program in 2022.

The news came last week via a post on the NFL’s official Twitter channel highlighting Osi Umenyiora’s Uprise academy in West Africa.

The 6’9,” 290-pound offensive lineman first appeared in Abuja, Nigeria, at The Uprise academy after being invited by former NBA star Ejike Ugboaja, who runs The Uprise in tandem with Super Bowl winning and two-time Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora through his outreach program, the Ejike Foundation.

Ndubuisi immediately shone in Abuja, not only due to his sheer size and strength but also his quick feet and surprising athleticism for a big man. The 21-year-old began his football career in 2017 when he was noticed by American coaches at a basketball all-star game in Lagos, Nigeria.

Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi first suited up to play football in Nigeria

Ndubuisi was unable to find success or recognition in the initial stages of his transition from basketball to football due to there being no formal league in Nigeria at the time. The young Lagosian almost gave up the dream and went back to hawking (selling items on the street) before the call came from The Uprise.

After a grueling six months of training with Umenyiora, Ndubuisi, along with two other attendees, were invited to London for the NFL’s IPP. Ndubuisi immediately caught the attention of the scouts and media. It was therefore no surprise when the young man’s name was announced on Twitter as a participant in the program this year.

Ndubuisi is far more than just a young man from Lagos pursuing his dream. He represents the invisible talent that lies on the African continent. In recent years, Europe has begun to gain recognition by its North American counterparts through the IPP and other international leagues. It is now time for Africans to get the same opportunity.

A full list of attendees is expected at some point next week. Those selected will attend a ten-week training program in the United States before a shortlist is prepared, with those on it being placed onto NFL teams shortly after the NFL Draft.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.