NFL Stars Spreading The Word Of Football in Egypt

American Football Without BarriersAFWB – has taken Egypt by storm.

Ten NFL vets plus a number of other coaches and players have held a four-day camp in this northern African country this past week and it has been wildly popular.

With 450 players attending the camp each day the group had their hands full. One of the founders of AFWBCleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge, says that they had to keep registration to a 450 per day to be able to handle the groups and provide good coaching.

“There would have been thousands but we just could not cope with that many players.”

The 10 NFL players joining Barnidge and co-founder Breno Giacomini of the New York Jets included  fellow Browns teammates Alex Mack, Barkevious Mingo, Jordan Cameron and Johnson Bademosi. Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and Cooper Helfert also are part of the entourage. Longtime Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams also made the trip to the Middle East. Thomas Keiser and Will Stuvek, also NFL linebackers are part of the group. In addition, quarterback Colby Cameron who played in Japan this past season is helping out. Also, American coaches already involved in football in Egypt have stepped up too including Talib Wise, formerly of Austria’s Swarco Raiders

AFWB - Egypt - 2pic

This event was five years in the making according to Barnidge:

“This is the fourth country WFWB has visited since we launched the program five years ago. We had intended to come to Egypt first but the revolution sweeping across the Arab countries prevented it back then”

Barnidge created  American Football Without Barriers five years ago together with Giacomini and college classmate Ahmed Awadallah, who was raised in Egypt. In the first year they visited China, year 2 was Brazil and last year they were in Turkey. So far it has been a resounding success.

AFWB - China-Brazil

AFWB in China and Brazil

“The journey in Egypt means a lot to me,” Aboushi said. “Being Arab myself, being from Palestine, this is an extension of my people, this is my religion for the most part.”

The goal of the non-profit organization is to spread American football to other countries while teaching kids the camaraderie and other life skills the sport brings to the table. Every year for a week in the spring, NFL players tag along with Barnidge, bring equipment for the youths to keep and train adults on coaching techniques so that football will be able to thrive there once the players leave.

They are not sure where they will head in 2017 but there are already planning and there are plenty of places to choose from.

“We love doing this. The people are fantastic wherever we go and we really feel we are making a difference.”

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.